The New York Jets had a surprising participant at training camp practice on Wednesday that we hadn’t seen before.
When players ran out of the facilities a new No. 9 jersey was among the quarterbacks tossing around the pigskin.
We later found out on social media that longtime NFL veteran Josh Johnson had signed a deal with the green and white.
The Jets had previously worked out Johnson last week at camp.
Johnson is a former high school teammate and cousin of Super Bowl champion running back Marshawn Lynch.
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Experience for Days
Prior to the Jets signing Johnson, they didn’t have a player in the quarterback room that had ever attempted a regular-season NFL pass.
Now they’ve added a veteran journeyman quarterback in the truest sense of the word. This is Johnson’s 17th stint on an NFL roster since 2009 and he has also played in the UFL, AAF, and the XFL.
This will be his 13th different NFL franchise that he has suited up for since being taken with the 160th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft.
“We were with Josh Johnson in San Francisco. He’s a tremendous pro and has a tremendous amount of energy,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh on adding the veteran quarterback. “He knows our system. He understands the whys and hows of our system and how to be a pro. Just to bring that into the room as a presence. He’s a fantastic human being and someone we’ve been talking to throughout OTAs and we are really glad to get him in here. He’s a big addition to that quarterback room. We’re excited to have him.”
With the unfortunate and tragic passing of the Jets’ passing game specialist Greg Knapp, the room lacked a veteran presence.
Mike LaFleur is a first-time NFL play-caller. Rob Calabrese is a first-time NFL quarterback’s coach. There’s a lot of new and freshness which is exciting, but it’s also important to have someone who has been around the block.
If you looked up the definition of a veteran quarterback in the dictionary, you’d likely come across a picture of the 35-year old passer who is now in the midst of his second stint with the Jets.
Wilson needs someone that can show him the ropes and how to be a true professional on and off the field. Over the course of history, there have been hundreds of players that have been taken in the first round and all of them were talented.
Unfortunately several of the bust stories we have heard about after the fact are because the player didn’t know what to do with his sudden influx of wealth or how to balance things off the field.
Johnson can provide that invaluable experience, knowledge of the scheme so Wilson can have someone to bounce things off of in the room, and someone who can step in a pinch if necessary.
The Timing Seems a Bit Strange
Okay, the Jets added a veteran quarterback that makes sense, but why now?
All offseason head coach Robert Saleh has been preaching youth and development. Even within the last couple of weeks, the 42-year old coach called the strategy of adding a veteran quarterback for the sake of it, “a potential cop-out.”
So what the heck changed?
“There are always numbers involved. When you take a look at the 90 man roster: who are you going to cut? Where are you going to pull from?” Saleh said to the media on Wednesday. “All of those certain things come into play. Knowing that Josh was available and knowing he has a recall of our system, we weren’t pressed to bring him in. When you look at the 90-man overall roster, there was a numbers limitation to being able to bring him in here.”
In a corresponding move, the Jets waived linebacker Brendon White. The former Rutgers product was one of 12 undrafted free agents the team added following the 2021 NFL draft.
In other words, Saleh knew he had Johnson in the bag and didn’t have to add him to the mix immediately. He also felt comfortable enough that Johnson could pick up the scheme quickly so that he could get some extra looks at the 90-man roster before he was forced to make a free-agent addition.
“Obviously, he has to spend the next couple of weeks catching back up and learning the nuances of this scheme as opposed to Kyle Shanahan, but it shouldn’t take him long.”
The Jets have their annual green and white scrimmage on Saturday, August 7 and then the following week they’ll “go on the road” to play in their first preseason game in over two years when they battle the New York Giants on Saturday, August 14.