The defensive end has spent his entire nine-year career with the Panthers after the team drafted him in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He went on to register 63.5 sacks, including a stretch of five seasons with at least eight sacks. He then signed a six-year contract in 2011 worth $76 million, which was one of the largest contracts for a defensive player in league history.
Entering this season, Johnson was expected to make over $15 million dollars which would have been the fourth highest salary among defensive lineman, based on Spotrac's rankings. By releasing Johnson, the Panthers' created $11 million in cap space.
The move certainly wasn't an easy one as Johnson has been an important piece of the organization for a long time. Gettleman said about Johnson that he "was an impact player for the Carolina Panthers for a long time, both on and off the field."
However, it was apparent that there was some decline in his play, with only one sack in nine games. The lack of production however could have been due to injuries that forced him onto the injured reserve. He did finish the year with three sacks and two forced fumbles in the Panthers' run to Super Bowl 50.