New Orleans Saints free agency: Veteran defensive end crop growing
In a somewhat surprising move, the Carolina Panthers released veteran defensive end Charles Johnson on Thursday. Though, the move wasn’t too surprising I suppose — Carolina was bracing for a $15.02 million cap hit from him in 2016.
They saved $11M by cutting him. The defense proved to be just fine without him for the 13 regular season games he missed with a nagging hamstring injury. However, he did have a sack in each of the Panthers’ playoff games, including their Super Bowl loss.
Johnson will be at hot commodity when free agency rolls around March 9. The 29-year-old veteran (30 next season) defensive end has been a staple in the Panthers’ defense since taking over starting duties following Julius Peppers‘ departure in 2010.
Next: Post-NFL combine New Orleans Saints mock draft
As of right now, the New Orleans Saints would have to go all in on him with their current salary cap situation. However, after an expected extension for quarterback Drew Brees (if it happens) and some other possible contract restructures, the Black and Gold should have some wiggle room to make a splash in the open market.
Charles Johnson could solidify the defensive end position opposite Cam Jordan, and just like that, the Saints could have a destructive pass rush again. Again, the price will be steep, but I can tell you this — he WON’T be getting the ridiculous kind of money Carolina gave him when he was in his early 20’s, especially coming of an injury season.