Free agent running back DeAngelo Williams was a guest on ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s “Know Them From Adam” podcast this week and says he has a list of teams that he would not play for in 2017. The list is short, limited to only four clubs, but the Cleveland Browns are indeed among them.
Williams, who spent the first nine years of his career with the Carolina Panthers before being signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers to back up Le’Veon Bell in 2015, did not cite any particular allegiance to the Steelers’—one of the Browns’ AFC North rivals—as the reason he wouldn’t take Cleveland’s call. Rather, it’s the history of losing seasons that has him wanting to avoid closing out his career with the Browns.
Williams said to Schefter that the Browns “don't have a history of winning. I'm not sure about all of the championships they won before the Super Bowl was the Super Bowl, but in my lifetime, I haven't seen them have a winning season." It was the same reason Williams has crossed the Jacksonville Jaguars off the list, as well (“the fact that they have pools in the stadium,” was the highest praise he could think of for the franchise).
The Dallas Cowboys are also not of interest to Williams, for a pair of reasons. One is Williams’ loyalty to the team he rooted for growing up, the San Francisco 49ers. He also takes issue with the Cowboys’ fan base, saying to Schefter,
“During the regular season last year, they were on cloud nine. You couldn't tell them anything because they were going to win the [championship], that's all they said. Fans just got extremely super annoying. Then, the minute they lose, they either got cheated, somebody was hurt, the excuses start flowing. It's just amazing to me. That fan base just in general can't handle defeat.”
The Carolina Panthers rounded out the list, for obvious reasons: “You're an ex for a reason, right? You don't go back to exes, and that's just where I'm at there.”
Despite Williams’ disinterest in the Browns, the feeling is likely mutual. This is, after all, a team that is trying to build for the future and getting necessarily younger as a result. That doesn’t mean the team lacks room for a 34-year old veteran back such as Williams, but with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson pegged as the team’s primary rushers for 2017, it would be an unnecessary signing. Williams has no desire to head to Cleveland, and the Browns don’t seem to be (and should not be) in any rush to change his mind.