Carolina Panthers defensive line coach Eric Washington doesn’t have the final say, of course, but he wants Charles Johnson back with the team in 2016.
“In the playoffs you saw what he’s capable of doing,” Washington told the Observer Thursday. “I don’t see that changing with him. I know he’s a very prideful guy and he’s going to do everything he can to play at the level he’s capable of playing.
“He’s a member of our team, our roster and we like what he brings to the table. I don’t see that changing, at all.”
Johnson is entering the final year of his contract with a cap number of $15 million. It’s unlikely he’ll play next year at that number. He’ll either be cut and the Panthers save $11 million in cap space or he’ll play with a restructured deal.
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Johnson had just one regular-season sack as he dealt with a hamstring injury that put him on temporary injured reserve for half the season. He had a sack in each playoff game.
Washington liked what he got from his entire defensive line this season. He got an All-Pro performance from defensive tackle Kawann Short while production from the defensive ends waned toward the end of the regular season.
“We collapsed the pocket and we did some things in terms of trying to throw the timing of the quarterback off,” Washington said. “What I want to do a little bit better at next year is be a little more consistent winning our one on ones. At the end of the season you really saw a glimpse into what we’re capable of across the board from the defensive end and defensive tackle positions, those groups complement one another. We’d like to start that way and continue to build that way.”