CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have signed Leonard Johnson, a cornerback with significant starting experience in the NFC South, to a one-year contract.
To make room on the 90-man roster, the Panthers waived cornerback Shaq Richardson, a fifth-round draft choice by the Steelers in 2014 who has yet to appear in a regular season game.
Johnson went undrafted out of Iowa State in 2012 but was signed by the Buccaneers and carved out a role for three seasons as a nickel cornerback, which is an unsettled position for the Panthers entering training camp. He played in 48 games with 17 starts for Tampa Bay from 2012-14, totaling 139 tackles, five interceptions and 20 passes defensed.
An ankle injury landed Johnson on injured reserve before the start of last season, and shortly after the Buccaneers waived him from injured reserve in early December, New England signed him. Johnson started three of the Patriots' final four regular season games primarily as a fifth defensive back and made a positive impact but didn't play in either postseason game and was released Feb. 17.