The Panthers announced that Charles Johnson has been hit with a suspension for performance enhancing drugs. He’ll be sidelined for the next four games, as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement.
Johnson, 31, has spent his entire 11-year career in Carolina. This offseason, the Panthers re-upped him on a two-year, $8MM deal that could be worth as much as $9.5MM with incentives. Just a few weeks later, Johnson went under the knife for back surgery. Then-GM Dave Gettleman admitted that the team did not know the full extent of Johnson’s back injury. The injury did not cost him any games – he’s played in all eleven of the team’s contests to date – but his performance has suffered. He currently ranks as the fourth-worst qualified edge defender in the NFL, according to the numbers at Pro Football Focus. After a so-so three months, Johnson has been forced out of action during a pivotal stretch of the season.
In a statement released by the team, Johnson admitted to taking PEDs to aid in his recovery:
“I accept full responsibility. I have been recovering from back surgery, dealing with the daily grind of football and mistakenly thought this could help. It was an error in judgement on my part. We have a special group here I wanted to be a part of and felt an obligation to do my part by getting back as soon as possible. I have always prided myself on being a person who does things the right way through hard work, dedication and sacrifice. I want to apologize to my team, Mr. Richardson and Panthers fans for this mistake. Regretfully I have disappointed people, but I promise to come back ready to redeem myself when this suspension is over.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.