Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers restructure Charles Johnson’s contract to gain cap room

For the second year in a row, the Carolina Panthers have restructured defensive end Charles Johnson’s contract in a move to create room under the salary cap.

It’s a standard restructuring that drops Johnson’s base salary to $950,000 and converts the remaining $7.8 million to a signing bonus that is prorated over the final three years of the contract, according to a league source.

The restructuring creates $5.2 million in cap space for Carolina. Johnson’s cap figure goes from a team-high $16.4 million to $11.2 million.

The last two years of the contract were unchanged, the source said.

According to the NFLPA database, the Panthers were $6.6 million below the cap before renegotiating with Johnson last week.

Johnson, 28, received the most lucrative contract in Panthers history in 2011 when he signed a six-year, $72 million deal, with $32 million guaranteed. Johnson has 32.5 sacks in the three seasons since he signed the deal.

He and defensive end Greg Hardy will combine to count $24.3 million against the cap. Hardy received the franchise tag, worth $13.1 million for this season.