Since the XFL was forced to shutter its season five games in due to COVID, we’ve seen a lot of players get picked up. One of those guys that we’ve seen move a round since then was former Los Angeles Wildcats quarterback Josh Johnson. Well, it seems he’s found another home in the NFL.
The Jets have officially signed veteran quarterback Josh Johnson, whose last stop was with the 49ers. They waived undrafted free agent linebacker Brendon White to make room on their 90-man roster. Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who became familiar with Johnson during his time as the 49ers defensive coordinator, said there have been talks of adding Johnson since OTAs.
Johnson is is a journeyman in the NFL. He’s played for 13 different franchises, including a 10-day stint with the Jets in the 2015 preseason. He’s appeared in regular-season games with four teams: Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Washington. During his tenure he’s had eight starts in 33 games, including four with Tampa Bay in 2009 and three with Washington in 2018.
“I got to know Josh at the end of last year. He has played a lot of football and I think he is not only going to help Zach (Wilson) but he is going to help other guys,” Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. “One, he knows our offense, albeit he was only in it for about six or seven weeks, but because he has been around the league for so long with so many teams he’s able to get a grip with it pretty quick. He started OTAs in San Fran, so had basically a year almost in our system. I think not only just helping those guys within our system, he helps with how the league works.”
Johnson’s arrival, Saleh said, isn’t meant to stop the development of backups James Morgan and Mike White. His experience will, however, be beneficial among a quarterback room which prior to his arrival had zero combined NFL regular-season snaps.
“They are getting their practice reps and they are going to get their preseason games, all that kind of stuff,” Saleh said. “Not to say Josh won’t, but obviously he has got to spend the next couple of weeks catching back up and learning the nuances of this scheme. … Over the next couple weeks, Mike and James have the opportunity to showcase what they have done and how good they have gotten.”
On November 22, 2019, Johnson was allocated to the Los Angeles Wildcats as part of the 2020 XFL Draft. A few days later, the Detroit Lions tried to re-sign Johnson but the XFL did not allow him to leave his contract with the Wildcats.
Despite the Wildcats finishing 2–3 in the 5 game COVID-19 pandemic shortened season season in 2020, Johnson performed admirably in 4 games (missing week 1 with an injury) by converting 60% of his passes, completing 81 out of 135 attempts for 1,076 yards for 11 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions for a QB rating of 106.3. As a result, Johnson was named the highest graded quarterback in the XFL by Pro Football Focus.
It’s great to see Johnson land another role right before the NFL season is set to kickoff. We’ll keep you posted as more former XFL players make the move to the CFL or NFL.