DE Johnson agrees to terms

CHARLOTTE - Owner Jerry Richardson vowed that the Panthers would be aggressive in free agency.

The Panthers began that process Tuesday evening by agreeing to terms with aggressive pass rusher Charles Johnson on a long-term deal.

While the defensive end agreed to terms on a six-year contract, he will not be able to sign until the NFL's free agency period begins Friday at 6 p.m. ET.

Johnson was viewed as one of the top free agent prospects in the entire NFL after he ranked seventh in the league with 11.5 sacks in 2010, his first year as a starter. In four NFL seasons, he has totaled 21.5 sacks while playing in 48 games and starting 20 times.

Johnson tied a franchise record with sacks in six consecutive games last season, matching the mark established by Kevin Green in 1998. Earlier in the season, Johnson played a key role in the Panthers' first victory when his sack early in the second half sidelined San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

Also in 2010, Johnson led the Panthers with 27 quarterback pressures and topped Carolina's defensive linemen with 73 tackles while starting all 16 games at left defensive end. Along the way, he helped the Panthers defense rank seventh-best in the NFL in average yards per play.

The Panthers selected Johnson from the University of Georgia in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft, taking him 83rd overall.

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