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The Journeyman - The Story Of Josh Johnson

In sports, to me, there are always multiple tiers to a type of player. One of these tiers is called the Journeyman. Now a Journeyman is a player who has played on multiple teams throughout his career. When you think of a journeyman so many names come to mind. The one man that not only defines the definition of a journeyman but with how large his resume it could probably fill 4 pages.


Now I did this article previously 2 years ago when I use to write for Blitzalytics, but I decided after a few years to remaster this article and even add an update as to Josh Johnson's resume in the NFL. So, lets go through his story in the sport of football and go through how he started to where he is today.


In The Beginning, He Began As A Buccaneer



Josh Johnson would start in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he was drafted as a 5th-round pick (160th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft. In his three years with the Buccaneers, he actually did start games with them. However, he did not impress and struggled a lot in Tampa.


In his rookie season where he had in the games, he played completed 50.4% of his passes, 685 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Not a great rookie season and he lost the starting role to a rookie Josh Freeman. He would mainly be on backup duty, excluding one start in his final season in Tampa Bay.


San Fransisco 49ers



Once he left Tampa Bay, Johnson would join his second team by signing with the San Francisco 49ers. This is a smart idea as John Harbaugh was the head coach and Harbaugh coached Johnson when they were a part of the University of San Diego. Unfortunately, he would not make the roster as je was one of the names listed on final cut day.


Sacramento Lions (UFL)



It was at this point that Johnson decided to take his talent to a different league in order to get better and impress NFL teams to give him another chance. He signed with the Sacramento Lions in the United Football League (UFL). Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, the league would cease operations and he only played for 4 weeks with Sacramento. Which was tough for many players and fans of the UFL.


Cleveland Browns



Once the UFL ceased operations the Cleveland Browns came calling and signed him to a contract. He was brought in mainly due to how injury-riddled the Browns were at QB. This was during the time when both Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy was on the team. Both getting injured resulted in a need at backup, so Johnson was brought into backup Thad Lewis. Gosh that is a name I have not heard in a long time.


On and Off Teams


Ok, so the next few I am going to group together in a bullet point list.


  • Once Johnson left Cleveland, he would join the Cincinnati Bengals in March 2013 but was let go in May 2014.

  • Johnson would immediately return to the San Francisco 49ers but was on and off their team in 2014 NFL Season.

  • Johnson then signed with the Cincinnati Bengals again in 2015 but was cut in the preseason.

  • Luckily the New York Jets brought him in, but only for a few weeks

  • The Indianapolis Colts would bring him in a month later, but again was on and off the team.

  • When the Colts released him a day later the Buffalo Bills signed him and finished the 2015 season with them

  • For the 2016 season, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens but was cut on final cut day.

  • The New York Giants needed a dependable backup and needed one due to injuries, so Johnson was brought in. Johnson would luckily remain on the roster and signed a 2-year deal, but parted ways once the 2017 preseason was over

  • One month later the Houston Texans would bring him in to be the backup thanks to the season ending injuries to Deshaun Watson, Tom Savage, and Taylor Heinicke.

  • Next on the list is the Oakland Raiders who signed him in 2018 but did not last long.


San Diego Fleet (AAF)



That was a handful right there, but now lets look at another league Johnosn was a part of. Remember the Alliance of American Football (AAF). In fact, Johnson was the 1st Overall Pick in the 2019 AAF QB Draft and was drafted by the San Diego Fleet.


Johnson would never play a snap for the team as he would sign a deal with the Washington Redskins. This is probably for the best as the AAF was an absolute disastrous and incompetently run league. Some of the worst financial management I have ever seen took place in this league and it resulted in the league ceasing operations.


Washington Redskins



Lets get into his tenure for the Washington Redskins which was the peak of his NFL career. He was brought in to be the backup QB to Mark Sanchez. Still makes no sense that Sancez was able to stat as he never served his 4 games for violating PED policy. Don’t suspensions have to be served while players are on an active roster or am I crazy?


Anyways, Johnson while joining the team decided that he needed to ensure he would fit in with the team. How did he do it? Well by playing madden in order to learn his teammates names. That right there is a big example of why Johnson has been able to maintain a long career in this league. He is willing to go the extra route and work hard in order to fit in to the team.


It panned out as Johnson would play in 4 games and even start in 3 of them. He completed 57.1% of his throws, 590 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 120 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown. He even got his first career win as a Redskin against the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-13.


Once he left Washington, he got multiple different tryouts with many teams. So, do you think he signed another deal after trying out with many teams? Of course, he did. Johnson signed with the Detroit Lions in August of 2019, but he would not last the whole season.


Los Angeles Wildcats (XFL)



Now we take a jump to the XFL as the league returns in 2020. This was something I had a big interest in as a big pro wrestling fan Vince McMahon was the biggest promoter in the industry. Rewatching the old 2001 version of the XFL, that league was an absolute trainwreck. Vince McMahon this time was spending his own personal money, instead of company money I thought it was going to be a lot better.


Josh Johnson would be drafted by the Los Angeles Wildcats and was pretty good. Johnson threw for 1,076 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. It looked like this would be a really great season for Johnson, but then the Covid-19 Pandemic hit. That pretty much ended his season and the entire XFL League until it merged with the USFL.


Return To The NFL



With the XFL done, Johnson returned in the NFL with the San Francisco. Well with there practice squad. He was mainly brought in to be an emergency option if there was a Covid outbreak.


Johnson was fighting for the backup role when he signed with the New York Jets. Johnson even appeared in a few games due to the injuries Zach Wilson and Mike White had. He even played a few games once Zach Wilson and Mike White got hurt.


When he played against the Colts, Johnson threw for 317 passing yards, 3 Touchdowns, and an interception. Which sounds great, but problem was he did that in garbage time. Due to White getting healthier and acquiring Joe Flacco via trade, Johnson would return to the practice squad.


He would not be on it the whole season as the Baltimore Ravens decided to sign him. This was when Baltimore had the injury bug. Lamar Jackson had an ankle injury and Tyler Hundley has Covid. So, Josh Johnson was back playing in the and remained on the Ravens roster for the rest of the season.


Denver Broncos



In the offseason this time Johnson would join a new NFL team. That team is the Denver Broncos. He would try to battle for the backup role as remember, the Broncos made the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade, which is often regarded as one of the worst NFL trades of all time. Remind me why George Paton is still employed as the GM of the Broncos again?


As for Johnson he was mainly on the practice squad but did get elevated when Wilson suffered an injury. While the 2022 NFL Season for the Broncos was a disappointment, Johnson would luckily play in a NFL Playoff Game.


Johnson is back in San Francisco. Yes, Again!



Josh Johnson has returned to the San Fransico 49ers and this time it is his 4th tenure with the team. He was on the team when Jim Harbaugh was the coach and Kyle Shanahan.


The 49ers gave Johnson a call when Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a foot injury. What else is new, roses are red, and violets are blue with Garoppolo getting injured. Well, he actually did play in the 2022 NFL Season as remember Brock Purdy suffered a Torn UCL in the game. Which could have been a career ending injury, but luckily Purdy has played to the same level he was if not better.


Johnson had to play the game, but he ended up getting concussed as a result and an injured Purdy had to finish the game. That pretty much ended the 49ers chances as Purdy could not throw and they had to rely on the running game.


Where is Johnson Today?


So, the question you are now asking is, is he still on an NFL roster? Well if you look at the photo in this article, the answer is yes. Johnson signed a new deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2023 and while he was on and off the practice squad, Johnson was brought back and is currently battling for a roster spot.


In total Josh Johnson has been on 17 different teams in 4 leagues. That is just insane and honestly, if he was put in the Hall of Fame for this reason alone, I would allow it. Some players can barely get on one team, but the fact he got to be a part of 17 different teams is honestly impressive.


That makes him a generational talent as a backup. Ok not really, but you know what I mean. I honestly hope he gets to play for 20 different teams before he decides to retire from football. Josh Johnson’s story will no doubt be one of if not the best Journeyman stories ever. I will certainly never forget him ever.



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