FYI...Charles Johnson was the highest paid player in the NFL for the 2011-2012 season, per CBSSports.com. I'm going to let that first sentence sink in for a second. No, it's not a joke, Charles Johnson, DE for the Carolina Panthers, entered a whole new tax bracket after signing a 6 year-$72 million dollar deal this past off season. It's nowhere near the largest contracts in the NFL, which now routinely surpass the $100 Million mark, similar to the contract Cam Newton will receive in the coming years. So how did he make more money last year than icons such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees? The same way Deangelo Williams hauled in $43 million, more money than the entire New Orleans Saint's backfield combined, Panthers GM Marty Hurney and his blank checkbook. The same guy who cut John Kasey to sign Olindo Mare, and gave him a $4 million signing bonus.
Marty Hurney gives out signing bonuses fatter than Albert Haynesworth, on a regular basis. If you are signing elite talent, I have no problem with it, but Charles Johnson, Deangelo Williams, and Charles Godfrey are not elite, in any sense of the term. That trio alone has received over $50 million in signing bonuses, while their production on the field since being paid, has left much to be desired. All three rank among the highest paid players in the NFL at their respective positions.
For the 2011 season, Charles Johnson was paid elite pass rusher money, and finished the season tied for 21st in sacks with a measly 9. Considering how many snaps he had on the field, it's pathetic. Deangelo Williams rode a strong finish to the season to finish 836 yards, less than a hundred yards over teammate Jonathon Stewart, which ranked him 23rd in rushing yards. Charles Godfrey in 14 games accounted for 84 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 2 interceptions. Not terrible stats, but nothing to brag about either. In a top 10 safeties list, created by USA Today writers, not only did Godfrey not finish among the top 10, he didn't even garner a single vote, while 21 other safeties did receive votes.
Overpaying players isn't new for Marty Hurney though. On the heels of an embarrassing 5 interception performance by Jake Delhomme in the playoffs, Marty swooped in to reward the "Bojangles bandit" with a massive $42.5 million extension including $20 million in guaranteed money. cleverly spread throughout the 5 years. That amount certainly wouldn't be overpaying for a franchise quarterback, but nobody in their right mind thought Jake was a franchise QB, adequate maybe, but nowhere near the type guy you build your franchise around. The Panthers run game, and defense were the catalyst of their success. The extension of Jake Delhomme, coupled with obsolete John Fox philosophy, spurned a series of events that made the Panthers one of the worst teams in the league for two years. Consequently, the Panthers held the number 1 pick in the 2010 draft, in which Marty Hurney drafted the man who will save his career, Cam Newton.
Thanks to Cam Newton, Marty Hurney isn't going anywhere, so Panthers fans need to get used to him being our GM. He has a personal relationship with the owner, and as long as Cam is healthy and continues to progress, the Panthers will avoid becoming NFC South cellar dwellers. The pieces are in place for multiple Panthers playoff runs, overpaid pieces (Johnson, Godfrey, Williams) and one majorly under paid piece(Cam). Restructuring Cam Newton's contract and offering an early extension will be paramount in making Cam a Panther for life. If Marty Hurney continues to make stupid financial decisions, keeping Cam could become a fantasy.
Follow me at @JonMcCaskill and look out for my sports blog coming soon. FYISports.net