When it comes to free agency in the NFL, the richer the deal, the more headlines that follow. That's just how it works.
But free agency includes much more than the big-money deals. Look closely at the Panthers' roster from 2015 and note the pickups of safety Kurt Coleman (seven interceptions), cornerback Charles Tillman (12 starts, 55 tackles, two interceptions) and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (10 receiving touchdowns). Hardly a peep was made following those transactions, but all proved invaluable for the team that lost in the Super Bowl. None made more than $1 million in base salary in 2015. Money well spent.
Here's a look at deals signed this offseason that have flown under-the-radar but could provide significant value.
Contract value: One year, $3 million
Carolina briefly released Johnson -- he was set to count more than $15 million against the 2016 cap -- but he returned to the Panthers just five days later after generating interest from multiple teams. Johnson assuredly could have commanded more money elsewhere, as he had an exceptional postseason (three sacks and a pair of forced fumbles) after missing extended time due to a hamstring injury. Johnson is a forceful edge rusher who has a bit of a unique build for a defensive end -- he's close to 280 pounds but has enough explosiveness and movement skills to disrupt the pocket as a rusher. Carolina still profiles as a team to invest in an edge rusher at some point early in the draft, but Johnson's return, plus the ascension of Kony Ealy, keeps the Panthers in a good position for next season.