DeAngelo Williams didn't know what to expect when he was released from the Carolina Panthers on March 10. After playing nine seasons with them, the only team he ever played for, he had no idea what being a free agent would entail.
Even when he got a call from the Steelers wanting to bring him in for a visit, he wasn't sure what to expect. That was until he arrived.
Photos of running back DeAngelo Williams. Photos by AP.
"I didn't know they wanted me. I had never been on a visit before," said Williams. "I was with the same organization for nine years. When I got the call and they said, hey we want to bring you in for a visit I took it as that. Had they said we wanted to bring you in for a signing I would have had a different mindset. I had no idea what was going to transpire when I got here."
Williams had somewhat of a comfort level with the team before even signing, as quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner was his offensive coordinator in Memphis, and he played with defensive coordinator Keith Butler's son Blake Butler, who blocked for him at Memphis.
"I knew those guys coming in so I was already comfortable," said Williams. "And I had heard about the legendary Rooney family so having the opportunity to meet them and feel the history here I already felt excited."
Williams also played one season with Steelers' safety Mike Mitchell. Mitchell signed with the Panthers in 2013, and encouraged his former teammate to sign with the Steelers via a message written on a board in the locker room.
Mitchell is among those happy to have him on board to backup Le'Veon Bell, giving him a spell when needed and keeping him fresh throughout the year.
"He is someone I believe can really help us," said Mitchell. "The only focus we have here in Pittsburgh is to win a Super Bowl. When you come here you really understand that and want to do anything you can to help.
"While Le'Veon is our back, you saw in the playoff game you never know what can happen. To not have our ace we were in a rough spot and couldn't get too much going. You need a really good backup to come in and help when our star players go down. He has been doing it for a long time at a high level. He can come in when Le'Veon needs a break or God forbid something happens."
Williams understands his role and has already said he is willing to do whatever is asked of him. Mitchell is confident he will do just that.
"DeAngelo has a great attitude and can provide some leadership," said Mitchell. "His personality is great. His main thing is he is a leader and passionate. I think he still wants to show people he has some gas left in the tank and I believe he does.
"The main thing I know about him is he wants to be a winner. He was one of the main reasons our offense in Carolina was successful. We had a defense dominated football team that was a ground and pound running game offense. He can come in here and help us. To have a guy like him only makes us better, stronger and maybe keep Le'Veon fresher. All in all it's a really good move for us and will definitely help our offense out."
Williams has seen the success Bell has had in just two years in the NFL, and isn't looking to come in and take over. What he wants is to bring experience, bring a changeup when Bell needs a break, and hopefully help bring the Steelers a seventh Super Bowl.
"It's the opportunity to take maybe one or two reps or whatever it takes to make this team better," said Williams. "That is what I will do. I want to make it to a Super Bowl and win it. I know this team has that potential and they can do it.
"Coming here was an easy decision. This is a Super Bowl contending team. Every veteran out there, veteran or rookie, they want to go to the Super Bowl and win it and get the best opportunity. I think the best opportunity is here in Pittsburgh."