According to Bill Voth of Panthers.com, longtime Panther Charles Johnson is planning to retire, he just hasn’t made it official yet. However, Voth says that if the team were to make overtures to Johnson, the Georgia product would not hesitate to come back.
Not too long ago, Johnson was one of the better pass rushers in the league. Selected by the Panthers in the third round of the 2007 draft, Johnson showed flashes of promise during his first three years in the pros and finally broke out when he was given the chance to be a full-time starter in 2010. During the 2010 season, Johnson put up 11.5 sacks and landed a six-year, $72MM extension from Carolina the following offseason.
He mostly lived up to that payday over the early stages of the contract, as he posted 32.5 sacks during the 2011-13 seasons. He added 8.5 sacks in the 2014 campaign and, although he missed some of the 2015 season due to injury, he notched three sacks during the Panthers’ playoff run that year, including one in Super Bowl 50. Carolina released him following the Super Bowl to get out of the last year of his mega-extension but quickly re-signed him to a one-year pact. He then signed a new two-year deal with the Panthers last offseason.
2017, though, was a bad year for Johnson. He failed to produce a sack in 11 games, and he was hit with a PED suspension in December. Carolina cut him earlier this year, and there has been no reported interest in him since. He did indicate before his release that he would like to play in 2018, so perhaps he will get another chance if a club decides it could use a veteran pass rusher later this summer.
If Johnson’s career is, in fact, over, he will have nothing to be ashamed of. He has accumulated 72.5 sacks between the regular season and playoffs, he has earned a pile of money, and he got to play in a Super Bowl. He also spent all 11 years of his career with one team, a rare feat in sports today.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.