2011 NFL Free Agents: Charles Johnson Will Have Choices, Including Panthers, Falcons

After a breakout 2010 season that saw defensive end Charles Johnson register a career-high 11.5 sacks, the Carolina Panthers have said that re-signing the free agent is among their top priorities. It's not hard to understand why.

The 2007 third-round draft pick eclipsed most of his career totals in 2010. During his first three years, he had started just twice, making 52 tackles and registering 10 sacks. Last year, he started every game and responded with 62 combined tackles to lead a Panthers defense that was the only thing resembling a bright spot for a team that went 2-14 last year.

In order to sign Johnson, though, the Panthers are likely going to have to get No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton under contract quickly. Signing Johnson and DeAngelo Williams are reportedly near the top of the to-do list, but both fall somewhere after getting Newton into camp.

If Johnson were to sign elsewhere, there will likely be a rather long list of suitors. Near the top of that list is probably the Atlanta Falcons, a team that could use Johnson's skills that would also allow for a return to his hometown. The Cleveland Browns are also considered a potential destination.

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