Panthers agree to 6-year deal with DE Johnson

The Carolina Panthers are making good on their promise to keep home-grown talent, agreeing to terms with DE Charles Johnson on a 6-year, $72 million deal on Tuesday. Johnson won’t be able to officially sign the deal until Friday afternoon. The deal includes a $30 million signing bonus. Terms of how the contract breaks up from year to year were not disclosed.

Johnson, a native of Georgia, had strong offers from the Broncos and Falcons, but in the end, Carolina gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“Atlanta back out they was scare of paying to much,” Johnson tweeted (@randywattson). “They gonna see me twice a year! Bet that.”

We got a sense that things went well between the Panthers and Johnson this morning. “Met with the panthers today,” Johnson wrote. “Went great. Not good but great!!! :)”

Johnson, the Panthers’ third round pick in 2007, was widely considered the top defensive end on the free agency market, and the Panthers knew they had to act fast in order to seal the deal. Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney and other members of the coaching staff flew down to Miami, where Johnson has been training, to negotiate with him in person.

In his first year as a starter, Johnson notched 11.5 sacks last season. At 25 years old, the Panthers felt like it was important to keep him in Carolina as a building block of their defensive line.

“Once you are settled in somewhere you get comfortable,” Johnson told Steve Reed of CarolinaGrowl.com. “Money aside, it wasn’t a hard decision for me to leave because I am tied into Charlotte.”