Former Panthers DE Charles Johnson retires after 11 seasons, all with Carolina

After 11 seasons in the NFL and more sacks than any Carolina Panthers player not named Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson has retired at the age of 32, his former team announced Wednesday.

A third-round draft pick of the Panthers in 2007, Johnson spent all 11 years of his career in Carolina before his release in February. "A Panther all the way through," he will be honored by the team on Thursday at Bank of America Stadium.

Born and raised in Georgia, the longtime defensive end saw limited playing time early in his NFL career behind Peppers and Mike Rucker, who's also among the team's top-five pass rushers in terms of career sacks. By his fourth season, however, with Rucker retired and Peppers playing elsewhere, Johnson broke out as a starter, logging 11.5 sacks in 2010. His next four years included at least 8.5 sacks per season, with a career-best 12.5 in 2012, the same year he forced seven fumbles.

Richly rewarded with a six-year contract extension, Johnson quickly became one of the faces of the Panthers' defense and had a sack during Carolina's Super Bowl 50 appearance in 2015, when the team went 15-1 in the regular season. Upon his release this offseason, he left Carolina as the franchise's leader in career playoff sacks, with five. His 67.5 career sacks rank second only to Peppers.

"The Panthers were all I knew," he told the team website, "and all I ever wanted to know."

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