Imagine my shock when I checked the NFL.com transactions page and saw this on Friday afternoon… (See second team entry; click on the image to enlarge it)
Pro Football Talk quickly reported that this was a matter of confusion. DeAngelo Willingham, an unknown cornerback from the Bengals, was released, but Stats LLC punched in the wrong name and cut the Panthers’ Pro Bowl running back DeAngelo Williams in its system, hence the typo.
Typos are part of the business. I once caught this one that I had written: Instead of writing “When kids are little, they like to play with toys in the bathtub.” I wrote “When kids are little, they like to play with boys in the bathtub.” A typo can completely change the meaning of what you’re trying to say.
But this typo begged a question – should the Panthers cut Williams? Here’s the thinking: Williams wants a new contract, and one of the reasons the Panthers haven’t been able to oblige is the 20 percent rule that kicked in for the uncapped year of 2010. Now teams cannot give players raises of more than 20 percent over their base-year salaries when renegotiating contracts. This is a big sticking point in holdouts that face signed players like Darrelle Revis and Chris Johnson, among others. Williams and Ryan Kalil are the two Panthers hamstrung by this rule.
But if a team were to cut a player with the wink-wink acknowledgement that they would re-sign him to a bigger deal, would that beat the system? For guys like Johnson or Revis, with less than four years of service time, this wouldn’t work, because they’d be subject to waivers. But under league rules, once you have four years of service (and Williams does) you’re not subject to waivers. (I couldn’t confirm whether the waiver rules changed along with the free-agent rules in the uncapped year, which would squash this theory.) So Williams would immediately become a free agent, and any team -including the Panthers – could sign him to any deal it wanted.
It would be a risky play – remember how the wink-wink ended up for the Cavaliers with Carlos Boozer years ago in the NBA – but it would be creative loophole hopping, to be sure.