I don't believe this is in play, or yet a worry - but, there will inevitably be questions now that both Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have contract extensions from the Panthers.
While it's hard to say what Stewart will sign for, it won't be cheap. So the natural leap becomes whether Carolina would get rid of Williams, and at what cost?
Williams is on a 5 year, $43 million deal that's two years in. Past salary doesn't matter, and current salary doesn't really enter in either - they won't cut him this year obviously. The $21 million bonus reported doesn't jive with other info I had - it appears they guaranteed year 1 as well, but didn't prorate it. Carolina reported $16 million as prorated over 5 years at $3.2 million a year.
Two years have counted, and assuming correctly he makes it through the season, a third year counts regardless of whether he's here or not.
*So in 2013, you have Williams' $4.75 million salary, and a $250,000 workout bonus, for $5 mil in cuttable salary, versus the remaining two years of bonus to accelerate ($6.4 million). Net loss.
*Another option is to drop him in 2013 as a June cut - the second year moves to 2014; 2013 would show Williams counting an additional $3.2 million versus the $5 million total earnings that would save; a net savings of $1.6 million, at the cost of counting Williams on cap space through 2014 ($3.2 million)
*2014, the fourth year of bonus proration counts, regardless of what happens; Williams has $5.75 million salary, and a workout bonus of $250k more - 6 million. $3.2 million, 2015's bonus amount, would count against the cap, so there's a $2.8 million savings there.
I don't think Carolina anticipates that happening anytime soon, but if they do, it appears two more years of Williams is about right before letting him loose.