Well, it's not exactly a big leap for mankind, this signing of DE Charles Johnson, but it is certainly a giant step for the Panthers.
Carolina has made a big splash on the first day of free agency by agreeing to terms with Johnson (and the terms are gargantuan -- $32 million guaranteed, which is the main number that matters, over the life of the contract). The Panthers have now released the news as well, following reports of the agreement, although they didn't release the monetary terms as is their policy.
This is one Carolina had to have, because Johnson is the team's only consistent pass rushing threat at the moment. He had 11.5 sacks in 2010 and would likely have been a Pro Bowler had the Panthers not gone 2-14 (that number tied for seventh in the NFL).
When I wrote about the five things the Panthers needed to do quickly once the lockout ended in Tuesday's newspaper, it was no coincidence that signing Johnson was No.1 -- he was hugely important. The Panthers have now risked a whole lot of money on him, but it was a risk worth taking.
Now it's onto DeAngelo Williams and the rest of the machinations for the Panthers -- there are many more to come. But this was a big one, and perhaps a nice foreshadowing of a season that surely won't be as cringe-worthy as the 2-14 embarrassment we all saw in 2010.
9 months ago