1. RB Jamaal Williams
Lions fans are ready with their pitchforks here, but there’s case for Williams to consider following Staley to Carolina as he prepares to hit the open market. He wants to come back to the Lions, and the feeling is mutual. But Williams would be doing himself a disservice not to see what else might be out there in free agency.
The Panthers offense will surely change under Reich, but if they don’t have a capable, proven quarterback the running game will still be very important next season. D’Onta Foreman was something of a workhorse after Christian McCaffrey was traded this year, but he’s a free agent. Chuba Hubbard struggled to stay healthy when his role was in line to grow post-McCaffrey trade this season, and it’s hard to see him as more than a part-time, passing down-tilted back.
Williams of course just had the best season of his career with Staley as his position coach (17 touchdowns, etc.), and he and D’Andre Swift both posted top-10 pass blocking grades from Pro Football Focus this season.
If Staley becomes Carolina’s offensive coordinator, it’s easy to think he’ll want someone he’s familiar with like Williams in his backfield. Even if Staley remains a running backs coach, a “Thunder and Lightning” element with Hubbard might be pretty nice for the Panthers to have. Staley could play both sides of the equation here, of course as permitted by league rules, to sell Williams to the Panthers and them to him.