In a statement Thursday, Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said: "Charles was an impact player for the Carolina Panthers for a long time, both on and off the field. His statistics speak for themselves, and as a team captain he led the way you want your leaders to lead -- by example. I wish him the best moving forward."
Johnson, 29, was a third-round pick in the 2007 draft and has spent the past nine seasons with the Panthers. He was due to earn $11 million this season, so the teams clears some cap space with his release.
He posted double-digit sack totals in 2010 (11.5 sacks), 2012 (12.5) and 2013 (11). During Carolina's run to the Super Bowl this past season, Johnson played in only nine regular-season games because of a hamstring injury. He recorded just one sack during the regular season but had one in each of the team's three postseason games, including one on Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
Charles Johnson's sack of Blake Bortles was his only sack this past regular season.
"Charles has had a very good career as a Carolina Panther and I've enjoyed coaching him the past five seasons," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "Charles fought through adversity with his injury last season and set a great example for our locker room as a captain. I have a great deal of respect for Charles as a player and a person and thank him for all the contributions he has made to this team."
Johnson's 63.5 sacks rank second in Panthers franchise history behind Julius Peppers (81).
The Panthers lost another starting defensive end recently when Jared Allen announced his retirement.