Charles Johnson Released by Panthers

Timothy RappFeatured Columnist

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Charles Johnson #95 of the Carolina Panthers watches the action against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank Of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson was a prime candidate to have his contract restructured heading into the 2016 season. However, the Panthers instead decided to release him, per Max Henson of Panthers.com.

Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, citing team sources, first reported on Feb. 21 that Johnson would need to agree to restructure his contract, or the team would cut him. Johnson was due to make $10.75 million in 2016, and his salary-cap hit of $15 million was reportedly more than the team was willing to absorb.

Johnson, 29, had his worst statistical season of his NFL career in 2015, registering just 12 tackles and one sack in nine games after missing time due to a hamstring injury. In his nine-year career with the Panthers, he's accumulated 279 tackles, 63.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

He's also recorded double-digit sacks in three seasons and had a stretch of five straight seasons with 8.5 sacks or more between 2010 and 2014. So while 2015's numbers and Johnson's age hint at an inevitable decline in his overall production, his past performances also suggest he should rebound from 2015's disappointing output.