Charles Johnson is looking for a new NFL home. On Tuesday he got a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' headquarters.
Unlike the hundreds of pending free agents due to hit the open market on Wednesday, Johnson has been free to visit and sign with any team since he was released by the Carolina Panthers last Thursday. Johnson played his first nine seasons with the Panthers and has 63.5 career sacks, but he was heading into the final seasons of a lucrative six-year contract signed in 2011 before his release.
NFL.com Around the NFL Editor Gregg Rosenthal named his top 20 unrestricted free agents of 2016.
Injuries limited the 29-year-old Johnson to nine games and one sack in 2015, but he had averaged 10.5 sacks over the previous five campaigns. From 2010-14, only four players recorded more sacks than the former third-round pick out of Georgia: DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, Cameron Wake and J.J. Watt.
In all, Johnson has played in 118 games and made 90 starts, recording 284 tackles, 14 forced fumble recoveries and 22 passes defensed to go with those 63.5 sacks. He ranks second in Panthers history with in career sacks and his 6.0 QB takedowns against the Buccaneers is tied for his second-highest total against any team.
So, the Buccaneers obviously know Johnson well and are very interested in increasing the potency of their pass rush, particularly from the edges. Young defensive ends Jacquies Smith and Howard Jones had 7.0 and 5.0 sacks last year for the Buccaneers, respectively, but the team hasn't had a double-digit sack producer since Simeon Rice in 2005. A dynamic presence on the edge would combine nicely with the pressure provided up the middle by four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.