Former NFL receiver Charles Johnson, who spent two seasons with the Eagles early in the Andy Reid years, has died at the age of 50.
CBS 17 in Wake Forest, North Carolina, reported the news on Tuesday evening. Johnson’s cause of death had not yet been released, according to the report.
Johnson, who had been working as an assistant athletic director at Heritage High School in North Carolina, spent nine seasons in the NFL. Johnson was selected in the first round (No. 17) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1994 out of Colorado.
After he was drafted, Johnson spent the first five years of his career in Pittsburgh before signing with the Eagles in 1999 on a five-year deal worth $15 million. Johnson was a big part of the early Reid years and played for the Eagles in 1999 and 2000, the first two years of Reid’s long stint in Philadelphia.
In those two years with the Eagles, Johnson caught 90 passes for 1,056 yards and 8 touchdowns as Donovan McNabb took over as the starting QB. Johnson was an important veteran target for McNabb early in his career.
Johnson led the Eagles with seven touchdown catches in 2000, but the Eagles cut him after the season.
“This was a very tough decision to make, however, we feel we need to get our young wide receivers an opportunity to step up and play,″ Reid said in April of 2001, via the Associated Press. ”These young receivers have been working with (quarterback) Donovan (McNabb) and the rest of the quarterbacks since March 19 and based on that, we felt this decision was necessary.”
Things worked out OK for Johnson. He signed that offseason with the Patriots and got a Super Bowl ring out of it. That season, he didn’t have a major role in New England but was a part of the first Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Super Bowl.
Johnson played for the Buffalo Bills in 2002, the last season of his NFL career. He finished his nine-year career with 133 games played and over 350 receptions.