Scheduled to make $20 million this season, Charles Johnson is guaranteed a big year financially. Expect Charles "Big Money" Johnson to earn that $20 million and then some, however, in what is likely his last season in Carolina.
Dave Gettleman has swallowed Marty Hurney’s medicine for the last three years, and this year’s pill is the largest. Johnson’s contract amounts to nearly 15% of Carolina’s total roster spending. Johnson is due for another large payday (14m) next season. There’s a big difference though, only 4 million is guaranteed. Unlike this season, where releasing Johnson would cost more than it saves, next season waiving Johnson would save Carolina big bucks. Releasing Johnson would clear up 10 million dollars in cap space in a year that Carolina will be working on long-term contacts with Luke Kuechly and Kawaan Short. Not to mention, Josh Norman becomes an unrestricted free agent this season, and given the pittance he has earned to this point, expect him to look for a big payday.
This means that, although Johnson has another year left on his deal, he’s really in a contract year. He’s going to be playing that next contract, the dream of all NFL players—a second big contract. A productive season could just land Johnson another substantial payday, and if Johnson can continue to show his value as a premiere pass-rusher in the league, a team will surely give it to him.
Johnson turns 29 in July, putting him at 30 years old when he’ll likely hit the market. He has an opportunity to land a solid deal with real guaranteed cash with another team. It won’t be for the long-haul, but Johnson won’t come cheap. Mario Williams did it. Jared Allen did it, and a big year from Charles Johnson, who has been nothing but consistent, would be just as appealing to a team that felt they were just a piece away.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow him on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles