The Panthers released Johnson on Monday, Bryan Strickland of the Panthers' official site reports.
With Carolina in need of cap space and Johnson coming off a season in which he failed to record a sack in 12 games while missing four contests for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the 31-year-old was always considered a prime candidate to get cut before the start of the new league year. Given his lack of productivity as a pass rusher in recent seasons, Johnson, who ranks second in franchise history with 67.5 sacks, could have difficulty landing anything more than a one-year deal in free agency this offseason.
Johnson (coach's decision) is listed as inactive for Sunday's wild-card game against the Saints.
Johnson, who played just 17 snaps in the Panthers' regular season finale last week, won't be used during the team's wild-card tilt. Wes Horton figures to provide depth at defensive end behind Julius Peppers and Mario Addison.
Johnson's suspension was lifted Monday, per the league's official transaction log.
Johnson has officially satisfied the four-game suspension he was handed for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. The Panthers were granted a temporary roster exemption upon his reinstatement, and the team will therefore need to let another player go in order to officially bring Johnson back to the roster.
Johnson was handed a four-game suspension Friday for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Johnson's suspension will begin immediately, so he won't play in Sunday's game against the Saints and will also sit out the next three contests. That puts Johnson in line to return for the Panthers' Week 17 matchup with the Falcons, as well as any postseason action to follow. Mario Addison, Julius Peppers and Wes Horton could see heightened roles in the Panthers' defensive-line rotation while Johnson, who has just 16 tackles and no sacks on the season, is unavailable the next four weeks.
Johnson (groin) is active for Sunday's game against the Bears.
Johnson was listed on Friday's injury report with a groin injury, but he was able to practice without limitations. He's slated to start at defensive end per usual, though Julius Peppers figures to see his share of snaps as well.
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