Other unnamed NFL teams were looking to sign Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson.
But Johnson, 30, chose to sign a two-year, $9.5 million extension with Carolina.
“I mean, it was a couple teams. I’m not going to mention any names,” said Johnson on a conference call shortly after the signing was announced. “But you know, my decision was always to stick with my team. I love the place that I’m in, I love what I do and where I’m at. The coaches always show me love and loyalty.
“I just love playing for this team and the decision was, you know, kind of easy.”
Johnson also released a video to fans on Twitter that insinuated that Charlotte was where he wants to retire. The two-year deal for the veteran makes that much more probable.
“If I ball out for two years, I’m coming back to the team,” Johnson quipped, laughing. “The support you see from over the years is amazing. Just to see the support I’ve had through the city of Charlotte (and from) the organization, just the people I’ve met through all my years of playing, it just makes me so grateful to be in this organization because people show so much appreciation to me. And I show the respect back.”
Johnson struggled with injuries in 2016, but appeared ready to return for another season (at least) amid speculation of retirement. He has 67 1/2 sacks, 335 tackles and 20 forced fumbles in his 131-game career.
Johnson also has deep ties to Charlotte and the Carolinas through his Charles Johnson Foundation, which, among other charitable efforts, opened a 124-unit affordable housing community in South Carolina in 2016.
“Me and (Carolina Panthers general manager Dave) Gettleman already had an agreement, kind of, if I could be consistent, do what I needed to do it was kind of guaranteed I’d stay home,” he said. “I mean, I just like proving myself to this organization. I couldn’t see myself doing that anywhere else. My passion is here, so I’m going to stay where my passion and loyalty is.”