The New York Jets have had their fair share of quarterbacks in recent seasons. In fact, the franchise saw four different signal-callers throw for over 250 yards passing in 2021 alone — which tied an NFL record.
Those players were Zach Wilson, Mike White, Joe Flacco and Josh Johnson. Two have agreed to return in free agency and backup the BYU product, while the fourth just signed on with the Denver Broncos to compete for the job behind nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson.
That, of course, is the 35-year old veteran who has now come to terms with 14 NFL franchises throughout his career — per ESPN NFL insider Field Yates.
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Impressive Flashes in 2021 Earn Johnson Opportunity
Johnson is the ultimate journeyman quarterback, signing with nearly half the league at some point and time — not to mention brief stints in the United Football League, Alliance of American Football, and XFL.
Add one more organization to the list, as Johnson greeted Broncos fans with a passionate, “Mile High what it do!!!!!!!”
If you’re wondering why Denver is signing such a grizzled vet to compete for a roster spot, it has to do with two factors.
One, Johnson earned it last season. Nobody really expected him to have much left in the tank when he first joined Gang Green but after a 317-yard passing performance against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football (three touchdowns), the wily gunslinger was able to parlay his spectacular outing into a late-season job with the Baltimore Ravens.
With Lamar Jackson sidelined indefinitely, Johnson acted as the backup to Tyler Huntley, eventually starting one game in Week 16. The Ravens did end up losing it to the division-rival Bengals, 41-21, but that didn’t stop Johnson from throwing for another 304 yards and two touchdowns.
Secondly, Denver is in the midst of a massive organizational transition. After hiring a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett, the Broncos orchestrated a blockbuster trade for the ex-Seahawks Super Bowl champion QB.
That deal also sent Drew Lock to Seattle as part of the exchange to get Russell Wilson. So with Teddy Bridgewater inking a contract in Miami, there was a need for some depth at the position.
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Open Competition With Familiar Face
As the situation developed on Friday, March 18, the assumption was that Johson would compete for the backup role.
Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported: “Broncos sign QB Josh Johnson to a 1-yr deal per his agent Doug Hendrickson. He’ll compete with Brett Rypien for No. 2 QB. After missing 2 NFL seasons, Johnson had 2 comebacks last year, throwing for 334 yds, 3 TDs in game for NYJ and 304 yards, 2 TDs in game for Ravens.”
Jakob Ashlin of Heavy on Broncos concurred: “Both Rypien and Johnson have cases to become the backup quarterback. At age 25, Rypien has more upside. Meanwhile, Johnson has more experience, and he is a more proven player.”
Worst case scenario for Johnson, Denver chooses the youngster or replaces both in the draft. You might remember the Boise State product, Rypien, who defeated NYJ during his first career start in 2020. The undrafted prospect also threw four interceptions that night, along with one fumble.
Johnson is the much safer option at backup quarterback, should Rypien falter in camp.
The veteran was a true professional through and through in New York and there’s no doubt that Jets fans will be rooting for him as he continues his unique football legacy. Next stop, Mile High.
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