Panthers cut defensive end Charles Johnson and safety Kurt Coleman
Since their shortcomings in the playoffs, the Carolina Panthers have begun making several changes within the organization. The front office has been active in not only making changes to their makeup, but to the roster as well. There has been some talk about the team moving on from a few key players to free up more salary cap space this offseason, as well.
According to James Palmer of NFL.com, the Panthers have decided to follow through with that notion by cutting two primary contributors on the defensive side of the ball in defensive end Charles Johnson and safety Kurt Coleman.
#Panthers have officially released safety Kurt Coleman and DE Charles Johnson
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) February 26, 2018
These moves helped move the Panthers to just under $27 million in salary cap space that could allow them to be a bigger factor on the open market. Johnson was set to enter the second year of his two-year, $8 million deal, where he was projected to make $3.1 million in salary and bonuses.
The 31-year-old is coming off one of his least productive campaigns, registering 16 total tackles while failing to record a sack for the first time since his rookie campaign. Johnson was also suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and he was designated as inactive for the Wild Card game against the New Orleans Saints.
He had been a staple on the Panthers’ defense over his 11-year tenure ranking second in franchise history with 67.5 career sacks.
Meanwhile, Coleman signed a three-year extension worth $17 million with $7 million guaranteed back in 2016. He latched onto Carolina in free agency in 2015, where he led the team with a career-high seven interceptions. The decision to part ways with the 29-year-old has opened up $2.64 million in salary cap space.
Coleman played 12 games this past season, registering 76 total tackles, three pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. This signals that the Panthers are looking to go younger at safety, meaning they’ll likely to select his replacement in the draft.
With the free agency period just a couple of weeks away, the Panthers could be one of the more active teams.