8:41pm: Johnson’s visit with the Giants is expected to continue into Monday, but the free agent end will fly to Tampa soon after on Monday to visit with the Bucs, ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reports (on Twitter). Johnson’s dinner with Giants representatives Sunday night reportedly went well, per Anderson (via Twitter).
1:24pm: After being released by the Panthers last week, veteran defensive end Charles Johnson is already drawing interest from pass rush-needy clubs around the league. As we learned yesterday, Johnson is set to meet with the Giants today, and according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Johnson will follow that trip with a visit to the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of getting after the quarterback in 2015, finishing 14th in sacks and 16th in adjusted sack rate. A lot of the Buccaneers’ pressure came from the interior, namely Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, as Jacquies Smith was the only Tampa end with more than five sacks. Smith is an exclusive-rights free agent (and expected to be offered a tender, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times), but other players along the Bucs’ front four — Henry Melton and Da’Quan Bowers, for example — are headed for unrestricted free agency.
Johnson, then, would be a nice fit for a club that needs to generate more pressure, and he comes with the added bonus of knowing his way around the NFC South. Though he played in only nine games in 2015 and posted only a single sack, Johnson was also hampered by injury, so his performance can be somewhat excused. Johnson isn’t exactly washed up, either, as he’s still under 30 years old, and averaged 11 sacks per season from 2012-14.
Because he was released, Johnson is free to sign with any club at any time — he doesn’t have to wait until Wednesday like the majority of NFL free agents.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.