31-Year-Old Defensive End – Carolina Panthers
2017 Fantasy Football Outlook
Signed to a two-year deal this offseason, Johnson's 67.5 career sacks trail only teammate Julius Peppers' tally for the most in Panthers history. Nonetheless, taking the quarterback down is no longer ...
Charles Johnson Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract with the Panthers in March of 2017.
Johnson was handed a four-game suspension Friday for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
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Charles Johnson: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Second on the Panthers’ franchise sack list, Johnson’s production took a huge hit last season, as he managed just 12 tackles and one sack while missing seven games due to a hamstring injury. Prior to last year, Johnson posted at least 8.5 sacks in five straight seasons. While the aging Johnson will surely aim for a resurgence this term, the development of fellow sack artists Kony Ealy, Mario Addison and Kawann Short has resulted in his snap count being reduced the past couple campaigns, so his best fantasy years could be behind him.
Second in Panthers franchise history with 62.5 sacks since 2007, Johnson’s total of 8.5 quarterback takedowns last season was actually a drop-off from his usual standards. To that point, Johnson’s 2014 sack return was his lowest since 2009. As Johnson received added attention from opposing offenses in light of former teammate Greg Hardy being suspended, he failed to record a sack through his first four games. However, once Johnson adjusted, he went on to post 8.5 sacks over the Panthers’ final 12 regular season games, adding another two in Carolina’s two playoff games. Knowing that, there’s still plenty of reason to trust Johnson’s consistency heading into the upcoming season. After all, the 28-year-old has averaged 43 tackles and 10.5 sacks over the past five seasons.
Johnson was once the clear top defensive lineman in Carolina, but Greg Hardy and Star Lotulelei may have stolen that crown last year. Still, that leaves Johnson with some bargain potential in IDP leagues. Even as a player with 44 sacks in his last four years, Johnson could see less blocking attention in light of the emergence of Hardy and Lotulelei. Just realize that he doesn't seem to offer much tackle potential – Johnson posted just 41, 43 and 31 tackles in three seasons since a 62-tackle showing in 2010.
Even with the emergence of Greg Hardy and the selection of defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with the 14th overall pick, Johnson will probably head into the 2013 season as the most feared member of the Carolina defensive line, and for that reason his road to production might be bumpier than Hardy's. But Johnson is good enough to produce even if he's dealing with double-teams. Although his tackle totals have been held in check – he has just 84 in the last two years – Johnson has 21.5 sacks since his breakout 2010 season.
Johnson's 2011 season was a bit disappointing – he finished with 40 tackles (30 solo) and nine sacks in 15 games – but that's not so bad given he was the only decent player on a pitifully weak line. Any offensive coordinator that let a play go by without a double team on Johnson was probably guilty of sleeping on the job. The other three primary starters on the defensive line – end Greg Hardy and tackles Terrell McClain and Sione Fua – combined for just 78 tackles and five sacks. If you can't recall a less productive trio of starters, it's not from a lack of memory. Things should be a bit better for Johnson in 2012, in any case, because Frank Alexander and Thomas Keiser should provide improvement at end, while the return of Ron Edwards at tackle should help after he missed the 2011 season due to a triceps tear. And really, even if it doesn't get better, at least it can't get worse. It's safe to plan on Johnson returning to double-digit sack territory in 2012. With division foes Matt Ryan and Drew Brees coming off a combined 1,223 pass attempts last year, Johnson won't lack for opportunities.
Johnson's breakout season came in a contract year, but the upside he demonstrated was considerable enough to earn him a high IDP ranking nonetheless. After tallying just 10 sacks in his first three seasons, Johnson went off for 62 tackles (51 solo) and 11.5 sacks last year. What's impressive about those numbers is how consistent Johnson's production was—those 11.5 sacks were drawn from 10 games, so he rarely posted goose eggs in the box score. And though Johnson’s heading into his fifth NFL season, he's only 25 and therefore probably has not reached his full potential yet. His supporting cast could stand to improve, but Johnson was a hit last year despite having the same group around him, and he should get plenty of snaps due to the many three-and-outs the Panthers offense figures to endure.
Figures to split time with Everette Brown at the right defensive end position.
Johnson picked up six sacks and 25 tackles in his second NFL season, after he entered the 2007 NFL Draft following his junior year at Georgia, so this was his "rookie" season in a way. Considering that he did his damage as the backup to veteran Tyler Brayton, Johnson flashed potential as a candidate for double-digit sacks down the road. Julius Peppers appears to be returning to Carolina for one more season, so Johnson will compete with Brayton and rookie Everette Brown for the opportunity to start opposite the All-Pro push-rusher.
Johnson failed to lock down a regular gig opposite Julius Peppers last season as a rookie, but he'll get another chance to grab that role in a battle with Tyler Brayton during training camp. Johnson has more upside if he's able to win the gig and many believe that he would have been a first-round draft pick had he not declared for the NFL Draft in 2007 after his junior year at Georgia. He's an interesting player to keep an eye on, but Johnson appears to be a reach for IDP leagues for the start of the 2008 season.
The Panthers appear to have gotten good value with their third-round pick as Johnson may be the Week 1 starter opposite Julius Peppers if Michael Rucker isn't ready to begin the season following offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL. With opposing defenses focused on Peppers, Johnson could make a significant contribution to the pass rush if the cards fall the right way. At the very least, he's in the mix for a starting spot in training camp.