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Grading the Carolina Panthers' Signing of Charles Johnson

The Carolina Panthers brought back defensive end Charles Johnson with a one-year deal on Wednesday. Brandon Croce hands out his grade for the Panthers' signing.

For this free agent signing, and all signings from this point forward, we will be breaking the move down into four categories. Each category is worth up to 25 points and a final grade will be handed out based on the total score. These are the definitions of each category:

Player- How has the player produced to this point in his career? Where does he rank among other players at his position?

Team Fit- How does he fit within the offensive or defensive scheme?

Team Need- Is this position a weak spot on the roster? Does this move strengthen the position?

Contract- Is this a reasonable contract based on production? Did the team over spend or did they get a steal?


Grade: 21 out of 25

The Carolina Panthers drafted Charles Johnson with a third round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and he has only gone on to register 63.5 sacks, which is the second highest total in franchise history. 

This past season though Johnson struggled, due in part to a hamstring injury, that forced him to miss six games. He only had one sack in the regular season, which was the lowest in his career since his rookie season when he only played in three games.

It was clear he wasn't healthy for most of the season but in the playoffs he played like the dominant pass rusher he has shown to be in past seasons. He registered a sack in each playoff game as well as two forced fumbles.

He will be 30 by the time the 2016 season starts and while he may not be a star pass rusher, he can still put pressure on the quarterback.

Team Fit

Grade: 24 out of 25

This is an easy answer because Johnson has played for this team and in this defense for his entire career. He has proven time and again that he can play the defensive end position in a 4-3 defense and play it well.

Team Need

Grade: 23 out of 25

The Panthers already had one of their starters at defensive end, Jared Allen, retire this offseason. So when the Panthers released Johnson, they would have lost both of their starters.

However, in this defense both were starters just in name. The team does a good job of rotating players in at the position and keeping them fresh so players like Mario Addison and Kony Ealy saw their fair share of playing time.

The biggest boost for this team will come from Johnson's leadership as he tries to lead not only this young group of pass rushers but be a voice for the defense as a whole.


Grade: 25 out of 25

This is where the Panthers get the highest marks. Johnson was set to earn over $15 million dollars this coming season but with the Panthers' releasing him they opened up $11 million dollars in cap space and only roughly $4 million in dead money.

The team was able to bring back Johnson with a one-year deal worth $3 million so essentially Johnson will count for roughly $7 million this season, which is still a savings of almost $8 million dollars. This is certainly a win for the Panthers.

Final Grade

Grade: 93 out of 100

There was a great deal of risk when the Panthers released Charles Johnson last week and allowing a player of his caliber test the free agent market. However, this couldn't have worked out better for the team as they freed up some cap space and was still able to keep their veteran pass rusher.

If Johnson can stay healthy and build off the way he played in the playoffs, the Panthers will end up big winners with this deal.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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