On Wednesday morning, the Panthers confirmed the agreement and Johnson posted a picture of himself signing his new contract:
charles johnson @randywattson
Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within #restaurantcomingsoon #GladtohaveaJOB #lilcjwassleep😂🙄 https://t.co/SKo4LiMpxL3/9/2016, 1:55:45 PM
ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing team sources, reported Tuesday that Johnson was planning to return to Carolina after meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants. ESPN's Josina Anderson confirmed the report.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Johnson "turned down [$6 million] from other teams," agreeing instead to a one-year deal worth $3 million with the Panthers.
"It’s not about the money. Carolina is home and I wouldn’t have been happy if I went somewhere else," said Johnson on Tuesday, via Anderson.
After the deal was announced, Max Henson of the Panthers' official website provided additional comments from Johnson:
"It was awkward, weird, new. It was an experience," Johnson said. "The whole time everyone is like, 'Are you leaving? Are you not leaving?'
"I was just sitting back observing everybody and getting some entertainment out of it."
All along, Johnson knew there was a strong possibility he would return to Carolina, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2007.
"I talked with (general manager) Dave Gettleman and Coach Rivera about what I wanted to do, and I already had my mind made up," he said. "But I had to see the other situations for myself and go through the process."
"I didn’t want to leave Carolina with that type of season that I had," Johnson said. "I want to prove myself, really. My ego is telling me that I have to prove myself to my teammates. I want to be at that high level that I’ve played at. I’m definitely coming out with some vengeance next year."
Johnson suffered a rather severe hamstring injury last season that landed him on injured reserve with a designation to return. He missed seven contests in the regular season and managed only 12 combined tackles and one sack in his limited action.
Although he did rack up five tackles and a sack in Super Bowl 50, Johnson didn't do enough to justify Carolina paying him the remainder of his salary. Per Spotrac, the move to release Johnson allowed the Panthers to clear $11 million in cap space.
Carolina must have seen the way Johnson performed in the battle for the Lombardi Trophy and therefore has to be encouraged by what he can do moving forward. Johnson has a strong chance to be an instant starter, and it'd be a shock not to see his production pick back up in 2016, health permitting. The Panthers know him better than any team in the NFL and must believe last season was an aberration.
And as Gregg Rosenthal of NFL Network pointed out, the Panthers need more depth on the defensive line:
Gregg Rosenthal @greggrosenthal
Big move for Panthers to keep Charles Johnson. Despite Ealy’s big Super Bowl, they were thin at DE3/9/2016, 12:45:10 AM
Prior to his down 2015 campaign, Johnson had been a paragon of pass-rushing consistency, racking up 52.5 sacks in the previous five seasons, posting no fewer than 8.5 in 2014.
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