He’s a little older, but Charles Johnson could provide some much needed help, leadership, and experience to a putrid pass rush for the Buccaneers.
It was reported Sunday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that former Carolina Panthers’ defensive end Charles Johnson would be visiting One Buc Place to potentially assist an abysmal Buccaneers’ defensive line. As colleague Alan Schechter pointed out, there is some risk involved in bringing in Johnson. His age, potential contract demands, etc.
I disagree. Mostly.
Charles Johnson had some injury issues in 2015, but has been a productive member of that defensive line for years. In fact, he ranks number two all-rime in Panthers’ history with 63.5 sacks, behind future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers. And that was with only notching one sack in the 2015 regular season. He’s had three seasons with double-digit sacks, something the Bucs haven’t had since Simeon Rice, and two more seasons with 8.5 and 9 sacks. That production would put Bucs fans in a frenzy these days.
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But it goes beyond that. Yes, the Bucs need production from their defensive ends. However, the leadership and knowledge Johnson can provide the young ends the Bucs are expected to draft will go a long way. Johnson wouldn’t be crowned the starter as soon as he signs a dotted line, one wouldn’t think. He’d have to earn that role by out-playing anyone else the Bucs bring in. As we’ve seen in Seattle, Denver, and Carolina, some of the most dominant defenses use constant rotations along the line to bring consistent pressure and keep guys fresh.
How could you not want a guy like Johnson joining in with that dance?
Would he be the next coming of Simeon Rice or have a Mario Williams-level impact? No, of course not. He isn’t that kind of player at this point. What he does is simply bring some level of talent and experience to the Bucs’ weakest position. He’ll also do it far less expensively than Williams or Jason Pierre-Paul would. At least, we’d hope so.
Johnson isn’t the kind of player the Bucs need to throw major money towards. For the right price, say around the $5-6 million per year range, a short-term deal could help the Bucs greatly. See, the key for the Bucs to really get this ship turned around is to continue their philosophy on building through the draft, which they’ve done very well with under Jason Licht. However, in order to get the best talent they can in the door via the draft, you have to fill in positions of need with free agents.
Now, that doesn’t mean getting the most expensive players available. It’s simply a matter of getting affordable players that add depth and fill in starting roles as you continue to draft solid, young talent. Teams like the Bucs can’t fix everything in one off-season, especially in one draft with only six or seven selections. Free agents are a necessity that allow Licht, Koetter, and the rest of the staff to just pick the best player they can at their turn.
Easier said than done when you know you have a hole here, there, two over there, and on more here. That’s when you begin to pigeonhole yourself into selecting a player that isn’t as good as one you could have taken strictly because he fills a void in your roster.
Charles Johnson isn’t the most glamorous player. He isn’t going to set the league on fire and be the 2016 sack leader. He simply fills a need, (likely) at an affordable price, and is productive in that role. It would be another step in the right direction for Koetter and the Bucs in getting this defense to an at least respectable level of play.
Who do you agree with? Sound off in the comments below…