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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Panthers don't let Charles Johnson escape

By Pat Yasinskas

The Carolina Panthers did exactly what they said they would do coming out of the lockout.

They were very aggressive in retaining part of their core. Adam Schefter reports the Panthers have agreed to terms with defensive end Charles Johnson, who could have been one of the top defensive ends on the open market.

Johnson was expected to be a potential target for Atlanta and several other teams seeking a pass-rushing defensive end. Indications are that both the Falcons and the Denver Broncos, now coached by former Carolina coach John Fox, made strong runs at Johnson.

But keeping Johnson probably was the No. 1 priority for Carolina. It was so important that general manager Marty Hurney traveled to Miami to negotiate in person with Johnson.

The Panthers apparently refused to be outbid and gave Johnson a six-year deal that could be worth as much as $72 million with about $32 million guaranteed.

That’s a ton of money, but Johnson is coming off a breakout season in which he had 11.5 sacks. After letting Julius Peppers walk in free agency last year, the Panthers weren’t going to let the guy who replaced him get away.

With Johnson taken care of, the Panthers are expected to focus on trying to keep running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker James Anderson.

With Johnson off the market, the Falcons will have to look elsewhere for a pass-rusher. Minnesota’s Ray Edwards might be the top remaining defensive end on the market.