Report: Panthers may cut Charles Johnson if unable to restructure contract

Jeremy Brevard / Reuters

The Carolina Panthers are looking to put pressure on their most expensive pass-rusher.

The Panthers want defensive end Charles Johnson to restructure his contract by taking a pay cut, and may release the veteran if he doesn't, team sources tell Joe Person and Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer.

Johnson, entering the final year of a six-year, $76 million deal, is due to make $10.75 million in 2016. Since his production has dropped (two sacks in 2015), that price tag figures too high for a team that needs to find a way to sign Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman.

If the Panthers cut Johnson, they would save about $11 million against the cap, a nice addition to the $8.5 million they're already saving with Jared Allen's retirement.

The emergence of Kony Ealy in the Super Bowl may give the Panthers some extra leverage, as the second-round pick is under contract through 2018 and has surpassed Johnson in terms of production.