The Panthers still aren't giving out contract extensions, due in large part to owner Jerry Richardson's direct involvement in CBA negotiations with the players union.
Richardson doesn't want to send the wrong message to fellow owners, so he isn't spending money.
Williams is set to make $2.1 million this season, which is low for a guy who has run for 2,632 yards and 25 touchdowns in his past 29 starts and earned Pro Bowl honors last year. But he knows his payday will come at some point.
"My whole thing is I signed a five-year contract here and if the owner doesn't want to re-sign me or do a new deal, that's all him," Williams said. "I'm not going to get upset or anything like that because I knew when I signed my five-year deal that I was committed here for five years, so why put up a fuss?"
In the past, the Panthers have been quick to re-sign their young core players at least a year before their contracts expire and reward them for productivity. But this past year has represented a dramatic change in that philosophy as the team hasn't attempted to re-sign players like Williams, linebacker Jon Beason, center Ryan Kalil and cornerback Richard Marshall.
Although there has been a lot made of the so-called "30 percent rule" - a rule that began this year and prevents teams from increasing the base salaries of players from year to year by more than 30 percent from the previous year - Williams doesn't see that as a big factor.
He thinks if the Panthers wanted to get a deal done, they could. He points to linebacker Patrick Willis, who signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension with San Francisco this offseason, as a prime example of a team making things work.
"There are ways around it," Williams said. "It's not a hindrance anymore. There are a lot of young guys that are getting signed, (like) Patrick Willis, that are signing big-time deals. So there are ways around the 30 precent rule. But, like I said, I signed a five-year commitment and I can't be upset and I can't be aggravated about it because I love this great game of football. The financial part and all of that stuff that has to do with this game outside of football, that will take care of itself."
Williams will be at training camp whether or not he has a new contract.
"I just feel blessed to play this game," he added.
In the meantime, Williams is focused on having another Pro Bowl season.
He missed three games last year because of a high ankle sprain, then had what he called "maintenance surgery" on his ankle, although he said it had nothing to do the injury he sustained last season. He said he's had some nagging pain in the ankle for the past two seasons, but not enough to keep him out.
CAMP CALENDAR: The Panthers report to training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., on July 28 with two-a-days commencing the following day. The Panthers have no scrimmages scheduled against other teams. They'll wrap up camp on Aug. 18 just before their second preseason game.
--WR Wallace Wright realized early on in his NFL career that if he wanted to stick around in this league he'd better find a niche.
WRs Wallace Wright and Steve Smith
And he did just that running down kicks and punts during four very good seasons with the New York Jets.
But now, after joining the Panthers, he's hoping to expand that role.
Wright, a Fayetteville, N.C., native who played collegiately at North Carolina, signed this offseason with the hometown Panthers after the Jets failed to make him a tender offer as a restricted free agent, and thinks it's time to show what he can do on offense.
He's been playing well in OTAs and there's an outside chance he could see some spot playing time in the Panthers' offense, especially if the team actually uses some of the four-receiver packages they've installed in recent weeks.
"That's my goal," Wright said. "I got into the league playing special teams and I excelled at it in New York. They brought me in here to work on special teams but also to help on offense. That's what I've been told. I'm very excited about that possibility and I couldn't ask for more. Plus, I'm back home."
--Rookie QB Jimmy Clausen's transition to the NFL has been fairly easy because he used a similar playbook at Notre Dame. His former college coach, Charlie Weis, worked closely with current Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson while both were winning Super Bowls in New England. And that's made his transition from college to the NFL that much easier.
"I think so," Clausen said. "It's pretty much similar terms, but a few different reads and plays. But at the same token, it's pretty much the same exact stuff."
The big difference, he's finding, is the protections vary a bit more at this level.
For instance, Clausen said a play at Notre Dame might look something like this: Guns trips right, 64 scan, Z-option, X-comeback. In Carolina, the play is: Gun 2 jet, 54 scan, Z-option, X-comeback.
"It just changes the protection, but at the same time it's still the same play," Clausen said.
--When S Sherrod Martin came into the league last season, a friend told him to expect the unexpected.
But Martin never foresaw the Panthers trading veteran Chris Harris, a move that opened the door for the 24-year-old to become the team's new starting strong safety this season.
"It's sad to see another guy go," Martin said. "From last year watching Chris, I learned a lot from him. His overall knowledge of the game was so much more than the average safety. He taught me to think outside the box and to be faster and be able to make plays."
Martin made plays when given a chance last year, which is one of the reasons Harris is gone.
Martin burst onto the scene last November when, filling in for the injured Charles Godfrey, he intercepted two Kurt Warner passes to help the Panthers avenge a playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals the season before. Martin, who gave the Panthers added athleticism and speed in the secondary, went on to start five games and finished the season with 20 tackles, three interceptions and two pass breakups.
--For what it's worth, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and current Fox broadcaster Terry Bradshaw isn't high on the skills of Panthers rookie QB Jimmy Clausen.
Bradshaw calls Clausen "just another guy," saying Clausen's mechanics don't impress him.
"I don't like his motion," Bradshaw said during a recent celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, according to Pro Football Talk. "I just thought he was way too slow with his delivery, way too much shoulder action. Physically, in the way he threw a football, I just didn't like him."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm real excited because I've never started before. I still don't know for sure if I'm going to start, but I'm happy with how things are going right now. And we have a lot of young guys, so I'm excited about this defensive line right now. It's a lot of new-name faces, so some people have got to make a name for themselves. I feel like this D-line is a no-name line." -- Panthers starting DE Charles Johnson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Panthers signed WR Brandon LaFell, a third-round draft choice (78th overall) from Louisiana State University, on Tuesday. LaFell is the ninth of the team's 10 draft picks to sign, leaving only second-round pick Jimmy Clausen, a quarterback from Notre Dame, unsigned. The Panthers didn't have a first-round draft pick this year.
LaFell signed a four-year deal and will make the league minimum in each year, along with an $818,000 signing bonus.
LaFell played in 51 games with 35 starts at LSU. He ended his career ranked third in school history with 175 receptions for 2,517 yards and second with 25 touchdowns.
LaFell is well-liked by wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and is expected to compete right away for the No. 2 receiver spot with fourth-year pro Dwayne Jarrett, who has been slow to emerge as a consistent factor.
How should Carolina handle Williams' contract? Discuss in the message boards.