On Wednesday, former Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson announced his retirement from the NFL. We heard rumblings that Johnson would retire this year, but those plans were not formalized until now.
Johnson was long considered to be 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 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 secured 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.
Things changed in 2017, however, after Johnson underwent back surgery. He failed to produce a sack in eleven games, and he was hit with a PED suspension in December. After the Panthers cut him earlier this year, there was no reported interest in the 32-year-old.
“Once you have back surgery, I don’t care who you are, it’s a beast to get back,” Johnson said. “My body was just… I haven’t worked out since this winter. I tried to get motivated to work out, and my body said, ‘We’re not working out right now.’ It was about that time.”
Johnson leaves the game after spending eleven season with the Panthers and registering 67.5 sacks. We wish him the best in retirement.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.