Former UGA standout defensive end Charles Johnson was released by the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers last week, but after flirting with other teams, Johnson will return to the only NFL team he has played for.
Johnson met with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants, but ultimately decided to stick with the Panthers, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The former Bulldogs defensive end reportedly turned down $6 million from other teams to remain with the team that drafted him on a one-year, $3 million contract, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The decision to initially release Johnson will reportedly save the Panthers $11 million in cap space, but he will be a bargain on his new contract. Johnson racked up 52.5 sacks in five seasons prior to the to 2015 campaign, when he was limited by a hamstring injury to nine regular-season games and one sack. He did, however, return to record five tackles and a sack in the team’s Super Bowl 50 defeat to the Denver Broncos.
Johnson recorded five sacks and 29 tackles during his UGA career and was drafted by the Panthers in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. The Hawkinsville, Ga., native has been a key member of the team since, and he now has at least one more season to with the Panthers to add to his career sack total of 63.5, which ranks second in team history.