The Carolina Panthers are attempting to keep their star shutdown cornerback Josh Norman and will do anything to keep him from being lured away in free agency. It is obvious the Panthers would rather not franchise tag Norman but get a long-term deal done that is beneficial for their salary cap. Several Panthers players must expect to take a pay cut in order to keep this roster competitive and this defensive unit together. One of the players expected to take such a pay cut would be defensive end Charles Johnson who barely saw the field in 2015.
Johnson played in nine games in 2015 and only recorded one sack and 12 combined tackles. Johnson is also 29 and has an injury history, so the Panthers may be hard pressed to keep the edge rusher. In the last three seasons prior to 2015 Johnson played in the majority of games and recorded a decent amount of sacks, however an $11 million cap hit would be hard to swallow for any team. The Panthers will have an estimated $20 million dollars in cap space, and they will likely need more if they are expected to re-sign Norman. There will be a couple of teams ready to offer Norman a ton of money to join their franchise, and the Panthers would like to be active in this free agency period to fill up some of their roster holes as well as to re-sign Mike Tolbert.
If the Panthers can restructure Johnson's contract, then there is a shot he remains on the roster, but if he refuses to take a pay cut there is a chance he could become a free agent.