It really is starting to look as there won't be many impact DE's available in free agency. Courtesy of Pro Football Weekly, more evidence about the Panthers' offseason plan of attack is coming forth, and all signs seem to indicate that keeping DE Charles Johnson will be on the top of their list.
The UGA alum Johnson will only be 25 years old going into next season, and is coming off of a breakout year in which he posted 12.0 of Carolina's 31.0 total sacks. In addition to his great motor, he also excelled against the run last season. Clearly, this is a guy the Panthers' front office will highly value going forward.
What's more is that even though Johnson would technically be an unrestricted free agent under the proposed new rules, this may not necessarily be the case. Reports are now coming out that owners are pushing for the ability to keep a select three or four players as restricted free agents each year.
If this is the case, the Panthers would certainly want to keep Johnson around for another year. You can't blame the owners for wanting to keep their star players around.
However, nothing is for certain with the status of a new CBA remaining as unclear as possible. These lockout details have become filthier than Sam Baker's beard. But at this point, we can still reasonably assume that Charles Johnson won't be a Falcon next year. Here's to hoping for some Ray Edwards in 2011.