Ex-Buccaneers QB Faces Unexpected Challenge

Todd Bowles

Getty Former Bucs backup quarterback Josh Johnson played for Todd Bowles with the Jets in 2015.

Things turned out much different than expected for ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson on Sunday, January 29.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy went down with an elbow injury, and the team thrust Johnson, 36, into action for the NFC Championship Game. Johnson played most of the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he left the game in the third quarter due to a concussion when the back of his head hit the field. A Bucs quarterback from 2009 to 2011, Johnson played in his first playoff game ever against the top-seeded Eagles with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line before his abrupt exit.

A career-long journeyman, Johnson signed with the 49ers for a fourth time in his career in December 2022 after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a foot injury. Johnson previously spent most of the 2022 season with the Denver Broncos practice squad.

Tampa Bay drafted Johnson in the 2009 NFL Draft with a fifth-round pick. Johnson started five games and played in 26 games overall for the Bucs in that time span. He threw for 1,042 yards and five touchdowns with an 0-5 record as a Buccaneer.

Johnson Owns NFL Record of 14 Teams in His Career

Johnson signed with the 49ers a first time around in 2012, which kicked off his NFL record journey of 14 different teams. The former University of San Diego standout lists all of his stops on his LinkedIn page.

“Being in my 14th year, I’m just thankful I get reps every day,” Johnson told Denver 9 News in August 2022.

The 49ers cut him before the regular season that year, and signed with the Cleveland Browns in December 2012 after a short stint in the defunct United Football League. His journey took him to the Cincinnati Bengals next in 2013 until the team released him in 2014. He signed with the 49ers a second time in 2014 but returned to the Bengals in 2015 after the 49ers released him.

Johnson then had stints with the New York Jets under Todd Bowles, now the head coach of the Bucs. The Jets released Johnson in September 2015 followed by stints with the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants between 2015 and 2016. He then spent the later part of the 2017 season with the Houston Texans. The following two years, Johnson had brief stints with the then-Oakland Raiders, then-Washington Redskins, and Detroit Lions.

New Opportunities Arrive for Johnson

Afterward, Johnson impressed in the XFL with 1,076 yards passing and 11 touchdowns for the Los Angeles Wildcats in 2020. It led to his third stint with the 49ers that year followed by a second stint with the Jets in 2021.

Johnson made the most of his chance with the Jets when he threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts in a game where the Jets lost quarterbacks Zach Wilson and Mike White to injury. The Jets released him late that season, and the Ravens picked him up for a second time.

He jumped in for the Ravens that season with Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley out for a game. Johnson stepped up with 304 yards passing and two touchdowns.

“A blessing,” Johnson said via Denver 9 News. “Didn’t know I was starting for the Ravens until Saturday morning. Stayed up until 3 in the morning the night before the game just making sure that when I heard something it was on my brain. It was fun. Everything in life I just make sure I appreciate everything I go through.”

Denver then signed to Johnson the practice squad in 2022 before his latest stint with the 49ers.

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