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Panthers announce new deal with Charles Johnson

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As first reported right here (actually, we broke it on our Twitter page, which is closing in on 100,000 followers), the Panthers have agreed to terms with defensive end Charles Johnson on a six-year contract. Terms were not disclosed.

The deal can officially be signed on Friday at 6:00 p.m. ET.

We reported that the deal is worth $76 million over six years, with $32 million guaranteed. Of that, $30 million will be paid in a signing bonus.

Per Steve Reed of CarolinaGrowl.com, Panthers G.M. Marty Hurney, head coach Ron Rivera, and several members of the defensive coaching staff went to Miami on Tuesday to persuade Johnson to stay with the team.

The fact that the Panthers won’t have to give quarterback Cam Newton, the first pick in the draft, a contract with an increase over Sam Bradford’s six-year, $78 million contract made it easier for the Panthers to give $76 million over six years to Johnson. And that’s precisely the kind of thing the rookie wage scale was intended to promote. Moving forward, only proven players like Johnson, a four-year veteran, will get the truly big money.

Still, it’s hard not to wonder why the Panthers wouldn’t have simply coughed up $91 million over six years with $42 million guaranteed to keep Julius Peppers in 2010. As one personnel exec opined earlier this evening, Peppers and Johnson are in two completely different categories when it comes to their play. When it comes to their pay, their contracts are comparable.

The move also shows a true commitment by the Panthers to attempt to be competitive in the most competitive division in football.

The next question becomes whether the Panthers will devote any cap room to keeping running back DeAngelo Williams, who has said he wants to stay in Carolina.