The Carolina Panthers released Charles Johnson and might end up facing him twice a season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking to sign the defensive end, although the New York Giants are in the picture as well.
Johnson was cut in order to generate $11 million of cap space by the Panthers, despite Johnson playing for them since 2007 and averaging 11 sacks a season from 2012 through 2014. In 2011, he played in just 9 games and notched just one sack, but his hamstring injury gave him trouble or kept him off the field. He’ll be 30 in the summer, which makes it safe to assume that last season wasn’t him slowing down, but dealing with a nagging injury.
Both the Giants and the Buccaneers need someone to bring pressure from the edge. The Bucs were in the middle of the pack in terms of sacking the quarterback, but most of their pressure came from up the middle, thanks to Gerald McCoy. Only one of their edge rushers made it to five sacks last season, and in general, they need to give their defensive line some revamping, as Henry Melton and Da’Quan Bowers are heading into free agency.
The New York Giants were 30th last season in getting to the quarterback, and there’s no dancing around the fact that the source of their success in previous years stemmed from the defensive line. Both lines have been neglected in recent years or simply filled up with bad players, and part of this offseason will be dedicated to rectifying that. Johnson has already met with the Giants with the Bucs next on his list, and reports suggest it was a good meeting.
Johnson, 29, has been in the NFL for nine seasons coming out of Georgia and getting selected in the third round by the Panthers. He became a starter in 2010 and until last season didn’t have any injury issues that kept him out for more than a game or two. He has 63.5 career sacks, three times finishing in double digits. He’s second on the franchise’s all-time sack list behind Julius Peppers (who is still going strong with other teams) who had 81 while playing for the Panthers.