Jaleel Johnson is headed to New Orleans (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). On Saturday, the former Texans and Vikings defensive tackle agreed to a one-year deal with the Saints, adding serious bulk to the rebuilding club.
Johnson, 28 in July, spend the first four years of his career in Minnesota, where he appeared in 53 games for 20 starts. He hooked on with the Texans last year, seeing time in 12 games as a reserve.
While he’s not a household name, Johnson has carved out a role as a serviceable run-stuffer. Listed at 6’3″, 316 pounds, he’s also managed to get to the quarterback on occasion. In 2019, for example, he notched 3.5 sacks from the interior of the Vikings’ line.
Though Johnson signed a modest one-year, $1.3MM pact with Houston this offseason, his ouster came as something of a surprise given his generally strong performance in training camp and the preseason. Texans GM Nick Caserio elected to go in a different direction, and New Orleans was quick to pounce.
The Saints will be without DT David Onyemata for the first six games of the season due to a PED suspension, and the club lost fellow D-lineman Jalen Dalton — who had been having a good summer as well — to a season-ending injury. That opens the door for Johnson, a run-stuffer who appeared in all 48 games for the Vikings over the past three seasons (including 16 starts in 2020) to come in and compete for snaps.
Adams entered the league with tantalizing raw ability and physical tools, but he played in less than 600 snaps over the course of four seasons in Green Bay. Last year, he was limited to eight games due to a sprained toe, and he did not do quite enough this summer to stick with the Pats.
There’s a number of notable names on this list, including wideout Keke Coutee, who has started 10 of his 23 games over the past three years for the Texans. Perhaps the most important move is the activation of Cannon, who was acquired from the Patriots earlier this offseason. The 33-year-old is expected to provide the Texans offense with a veteran presence, and his return to practice may have bumped another veteran from the roster. The team released lineman Lane Taylor, who sat on PUP for all of the preseason while recovering from a torn ACL. The veteran has only appeared in two games since the 2019 season, and his return to the NFL will now have to take place elsewhere.
DeMarcus Walker, DL (Texans): One year, $1.5MM. The ex-Broncos D-lineman will receive $500K guaranteed and can earn up to $200K in per-game roster bonuses, per veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). Walker’s deal will count $1.45MM against the Texans’ cap.
Roderick Johnson, T (Texans): One year, $1.15MM. Johnson will receive $350K guaranteed. He will be attached to a $920K base salary and can collect $130K in per-game roster bonuses, Wilson tweets.
Aldon Smith, DE (Seahawks): One year, $1.13MM. Smith agreed to a deal that includes a nonguaranteed $990K base salary, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com tweets. He will collect a $137K signing bonus, with the contract counting at $988K on Seattle’s cap sheet.
The former fourth-round pick out of Iowa had spent his entire career with the Vikings, appearing in each of the team’s 48 regular season games between 2018 and 2020. Following a 2019 campaign that saw Johnson compile a career-high 3.5 sacks, the 26-year-old finished 2020 with 44 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus wasn’t particularly fond of the lineman’s performance this past season, however, rating him as one of the worst interior defenders.
Despite his underwhelming performance, Johnson should see some playing time in Houston. Holdovers like Ross Blacklock and additions like Maliek Collins didn’t set the world on fire last season, and as Wilson reported earlier today (via Twitter), the Texans withdrew their tender on defensive tackle P.J. Hall. The former second-rounder started nine games for the Texans last season.
Despite coming off back-to-back injury-marred seasons, Lane Taylor continues to draw interest as a free agent. The Texans brought the veteran offensive lineman in for a visit Monday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
The Texans also summoned former Vikings defensive line starter Jaleel Johnson for a meeting. Under new GM Nick Caserio, Houston has made several modest investments in starters or depth pieces this offseason. These two would qualify as such, though the Texans may be merely monitoring Taylor’s rehab progress.
Taylor, 31, missed 29 games over the past two seasons. Biceps and knee maladies altered the former Packers guard’s NFL path; he is currently recovering from an ACL tear. However, Taylor’s latest injury occurred in nearly seven months ago. That would give the eight-year vet a reasonable chance to be ready for a training camp. The 49ers, who hosted Taylor in March, and Texans are looking into his status late in the rehab process.
The Packers gave Taylor an extension and used him as a full-time starter from 2016-18. He missed just two games during that stretch. Green Bay penciled in Taylor as a Week 1 starter in 2019 and ’20 as well. However, the two major injuries will limit the former UDFA’s value on this year’s market.
A 2017 fourth-round pick, Johnson started 16 games for the Vikings last season. The defensive tackle also recorded 3.5 sacks as a rotational player during the 2019 slate. The Vikings moved on from Linval Joseph and saw Michael Pierce opt out last year, opening a door for Johnson to start. Pro Football Focus did not view Johnson’s starter season in a positive light, rating him as one of the worst interior defenders in 2020. Johnson and Texans Ross Blacklock and Maliek Collins each ranked in PFF’s bottom five among interior D-linemen last season. Johnson received higher marks as a backup in previous years.