The Atlanta Falcons weren't interested in Carolina Panthers DE Charles Johnson, we've been hearing for weeks. Ray Edwards, neither. But while basking in his new $72 million contract, the man himself said the Falcons were one of three teams to make a serious recruiting effort for his services.
That's a $12 million-per-year deal for a player with only one outstanding season. It's not like he's underperformed, as his previous two years featured solid production for a non-starter. But paying elite money for a player with only one good year on his record is always risky.
Here's the part that's interesting to me. Johnson said he was "blown away" by the offer Carolina made, and that the Falcons dropped out of the running upon learning what the Panthers were offering. I don't want to read a narrative into this just because I think Thomas Dimitroff is smart and Carolina makes a lot of amusing personnel calls as of late, but it sort of looks to me like the Panthers had to overspend just to beat Atlanta's hometown advantage.
Johnson is from Georgia and played his college ball here. He said his family wanted him to sign with Atlanta. The Panthers knew all this. Not only did they have to counter that, they also had to ensure they didn't lose a player to a division rival. Even though national and local writers have said for a long time that the Falcons really didn't want Johnson all that much anyway.
Again, I'm not trying to make it out like everything the Falcons do is brilliant and the Panthers walked right into a trap. I just wonder if Atlanta was able to use Johnson's state ties to force Carolina into spending too much money.