Is Panthers' DeAngelo Williams overpaid?

Forbes has its list of the NFL’s most overpaid players of 2012 and only one NFC South player is on there.

It’s Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams at No. 7.

I get the point that Williams’ production this season (31 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown) isn’t matching up to his $8.7 million salary. I also get the fact that it’s easy to look at Williams’ production from last season (155 carries for 836 yards and seven rushing touchdowns) didn’t quite match up with the five-year, $43 million deal he received when the lockout ended in the summer of 2011.

What might be most surprising of all is the Panthers gave Williams that contract after he carried 87 times for 361 yards and one touchdown in a 2010 season that was limited by injuries to six games.

But the 2010 season wasn’t the barometer the Panthers chose to use when figuring Williams’ market value. That was coach John Fox’s last season and things got ugly as the Panthers went 2-14.

When the Panthers were signing Williams to that contract, they clearly were looking at what he did in 2009 and 2008. In 2009, Williams carried 216 times for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2008, he carried 273 times for 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns.

If the Panthers didn’t give Williams that contract, someone else would have.

Is Williams producing below his salary right now? No question.

But I don’t see that as Williams’ fault. I think the real problem is the Panthers are not utilizing him nearly enough. The Panthers are splitting their carries among Williams, Jonathan Stewart, quarterback Cam Newton and fullback Mike Tolbert.

Just look back at the history above. It shows that if you give Williams 200 carries, he’ll give you more than 1,000 rushing yards.

Give him less and he’ll give you a lot less. Don’t blame Williams for that.

Blame the Panthers. The way they’re using -- or not using Williams -- is the reason his production isn’t matching up with his salary.