The performance of second-year defensive end Kony Ealy at the Super Bowl has created a sense that the Panthers are on the verge of discovering a potent outside pass rush. The production of Jared Allen, who had only two sacks in 12 games, is replaceable.
But they also could be looking at the departure of defensive end Charles Johnson (pictured). As explained by Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Johnson enters the final season of a six-year, $76 million deal signed after the lockout ended in 2011. He has a base salary of $10.75 million, a $250,000 workout bonus, and a salary-cap charge of $15 million.
Per the Observer, Johnson will have to take less money or be released. That would create $11 million in cap space for the Panthers.
The challenge becomes putting a value on a guy who turns 30 in July, and who had one sack in nine games last year.
The Panthers could add pass rushers in the draft or free agency, with G.M. Dave Gettleman possibly being intrigued by Jason Pierre-Paul. Drafted while Gettleman worked for the Giants, Pierre-Paul’s truncated, post-firework accident performance was still solid. He could be a great complement to Ealy and inside forces Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei.