The Giants are giving Leonard Johnson a three-year deal, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. The former Duke prospect suffered a torn ACL while training for the 2022 draft; the Giants worked him out Monday and saw enough to take a flier. While Ford made two starts for the Falcons last season, the ex-UDFA is best known for his special teams work. He saw action on 83% of Atlanta’s ST plays last season, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (via Twitter) the Bengals are giving him a one-year deal worth up to $2.25MM.
Both Scharping and Lonnie Johnson are former Texans second-round picks. The Texans waived Scharping on roster-cutdown day in August, but the Bengals claimed him. Although Scharping only played 30 snaps for Cincinnati last season, the team will keep him around for another run at a backup gig. Months before bailing on Scharping, the Texans traded Johnson to the Chiefs. But Kansas City did not see much from the acquisition in camp and waived him. The Titans picked up Johnson via waivers, using him as a backup. Johnson has experience at both cornerback and safety, and The Score’s Jordan Schultz adds he agreed to a one-year Saints deal (Twitter link).
On Day 2 of the 2023 league year, the visit stage of free agency appears upon us. The Seahawks will act accordingly, being set to host two defenders coming off their respective rookie contracts.
Linebacker Devin Bush and safety Julian Love will head to Seattle for summits with Seahawks brass Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Seahawks have been busy along their defensive front but have thus far waited out the markets at linebacker and in the secondary.
Love’s inclusion here is interesting, both given the Seahawks’ personnel at the position and the Giants’ in retaining their young safety starter. Although the Giants began negotiations with Love before free agency began, the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard notes (via Twitter) the sides are not close on terms.
Love is just 24 (25 this weekend) despite having been in the NFL four seasons, and after Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan relocated last year, the former Giants fourth-round pick played a vital role for Don Martindale’s defense. He logged 1,006 snaps during a season in which Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson missed extended stretches, helping Big Blue secure its first playoff berth in six years. Love made 124 tackles and intercepted two passes last season.
The Seahawks are already the most well-invested team at the safety position, having Jamal Adams still on a top-market contract and having re-signed Quandre Diggs last year. Even after the Falcons added Jessie Bates for $16MM on average, Diggs’ $13MM-per-year contract still ranks within the top 10 at the position. The Seahawks are coming off a season in which Adams played one game, but Love might prove too pricey for a role alongside this duo.
Following a productive rookie season, Bush could not become a Steelers anchor at linebacker. The team, which traded up for Bush in the 2019 first round, reduced his playing time last season. Bush logged a career-low 62% defensive snap rate with Pittsburgh in 2022, after the team passed on his fifth-year option.
Pro Football Focus slotted Bush just outside the top 50 at linebacker last season; that did mark a bump after the advanced metrics site rated him as one of the worst players at the position in 2021. The Michigan product did play 17 games, making a sufficient recovery from the ACL tear that sidetracked his career back in 2020, but he did not check in as one of this crowded off-ball linebacker market’s top options heading into free agency.
Defensive back Lonnie Johnson will also be part of this visit, Schefter adds (on Twitter). The former Texans second-round pick spent 2022 with two teams — the Chiefs and Titans — following a trade and waiver claim. The Texans bailed on Johnson, whom they tried at cornerback and safety, by trading him to the Chiefs. Kansas City waived Johnson in August. He ended up playing in 12 games as a Tennessee backup last season. The fifth-year defender has 19 career starts on his resume.
The Titans made a number of moves today as they prepared for their Week 15 matchup against the Chargers. Most notably, the team placed running back Dontrell Hilliard on injured reserve and activated cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. from IR.
Hilliard suffered a neck injury in last Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars. The running back has turned into a reliable offensive option during his second season in Tennessee, serving as the team’s primary pass-catching back (21 receptions for 177 yards and four touchdowns). As Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky notes on Twitter, the team doesn’t really have a replacement for Hilliard on the roster. Rookies Hassan Haskins and Julius Chestnut will now be relied on to spell Derrick Henry.
After getting waived by the Chiefs during the preseason, Johnson caught on with the Titans. He got into eight games for Tennessee, with the majority of his playing time coming on special teams. The defensive back suffered a hamstring injury during the Titans’ Week 10 win over the Broncos, landing him on IR. The former second-round pick started 19 games for the Texans through his first three seasons in the NFL.
The Titans also signed guard Jordan Roos, cornerback Davontae Harris, and Chestnut to the active roster and promoted wideout Mason Kinsey and linebacker Andre Smith from the practice squad. Tennessee also placed wide receiver C.J. Board on IR. Board suffered a rib injury earlier this month and will now miss the rest of the regular season. Since joining the active roster in November, Board has served as the team’s primary punt returner.
Igwebuike is being elevated for the second time this season. Starting rookie running back Kenneth Walker has returned to the lineup but running back and return man DeeJay Dallas missed a second straight week of practice, meaning Igwebuike will likely have return duties while backing up Walker and Travis Homer.
Smith will be undergoing surgery for a nagging bone spur, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. The surgery will necessitate a recovery period of about four months, so Smith’s 2022 campaign has come to an end.
Parks re-signed with the Jets this offseason after being claimed by the team last December and starting two games. Despite starting another game this season, Parks has spent most of time on special teams in 11 games this year.
Both roster additions were made in anticipation of tonight’s game between the Packers and Titans. Board has got into one game for the Titans this season, returning four punts. Hamilton has seen time in two games this season after getting into six contests for Green Bay in 2021.
Johnson suffered a hamstring injury during Tennessee’s Week 10 win against the Packers. The 27-year-old has appeared in eight games this season, collecting five tackles.
The Titans claimed a player off waivers and acquired a player via trade today. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), the Titans have claimed defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr.off waivers from the Chiefs. Meanwhile, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com reports (on Twitter) that the Titans have acquired safety Tyree Gillespie from the Raiders.
The Chiefs traded a 2024 conditional seventh-round pick to acquire Johnson back in May, but they ended up dumping the defensive back yesterday (while also, presumably, retaining their draft pick). The former second-round pick had spent the first three seasons of his career in Houston, but he found himself in and out of the starting lineup. He started only 19 of his 44 games during his time with the Texans, collecting 172 tackles.
This past season, Johnson started seven of his 14 games while collecting 55 tackles and three interceptions. While he played mostly cornerback to begin his career, Pro Football Focus graded him as a safety in 2021…and they graded him as the worst player at the position. However, he did show some promise in his rush defense score.
Meanwhile, Gillespie was acquired from Las Vegas for a late-round conditional draft pick, according to Wilson (on Twitter). The safety was selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft but barely saw the field as a rookie. He ended up getting into 11 games, collecting eight tackles while primarily appearing on special teams.
Lonnie Johnson Jr.had a brief tenure with the Texans, and his stint with the Chiefs has now ended before his first regular season contest in Kansas City. Per a team announcement, the corner is among the players being waived by the Chiefs as rosters are cut to 85.
Johnson, 26, was a second-round pick of the Texans in 2019. He struggled as a rookie, surrendering four touchdowns and a passer rating over 111 in coverage. Despite starting fewer games (five) in his second season with the team, he logged a higher snap percentage. The 2020 season saw improvement in terms of coverage, and his highest career PFF grade, 65.5.
His playing time dropped again last season, though. The Kentucky alum recorded the first three interceptions of his NFL career, but was unable to secure a full-time starting spot and was again rated very poorly by PFF. This offseason, Houston traded him to Kansas City for a conditional seventh-round pick, a disappointing end to his time there.
The CB room has seen plenty of changes this spring for the Chiefs. The team used three draft picks on the position, including No. 21 on Trent McDuffie. They parted ways withDeandre Bakerlast week, another young corner who has struggled to find his footing in the NFL. That move, coupled with today’s, speaks to the Chiefs’ commitment to their homegrown players on the backend.
In addition to Johnson, Kansas City is waiving receivers Omar Bayless and Gary Jennings, along with offensive tackle Evin Ksiezarczyk. They will now look to find a new NFL home as rosters continue to be trimmed in the build-up to the season.
Lonnie Johnson Jr.‘s stint in Houston has come to an end. According to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus (on Twitter), the Texans have traded the cornerback to the Chiefs. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), the Texans will receive a 2024 conditional seventh-round pick.
Johnson was a 2019 second-round pick by the Texans, but he failed to establish himself as a starter during his three years in Houston. The defensive back ultimately saw time in 44 games (19 starts) for the Texans, collecting 172 tackles. He seemed to take a step forward in 2021, as the 26-year-old finished with 55 tackles, three interceptions, and six passes defended.
The Texans weren’t done making moves today. Per Kyed (on Twitter), the Texans signed defensive Rasheem Green and waived/injured running back Scottie Phillips. Green, a 2018 fourth-round pick, spent his first four professional seasons with the Seahawks, including a 2021 campaign where he finished with a career-high 6.5 sacks in 17 games (16 starts). Phillips spent two years in Houston, collecting 38 yards from scrimmage.
The Texans have also added defensive end Mario Addison, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston (on Twitter). Addison is inking a two-year deal, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). Following a long stint with the Panthers that saw him collect 55 sacks in 111 games, Addison spent the past two seasons with the Bills, where he added another 12 sacks in 32 games. The lineman played under current Texans defensive line coach Jacques Cesaire in Buffalo.
Finally, the Texans picked up the fifth-year option on offensive lineman Tytus Howard (per Rapoport on Twitter). Howard has started all 37 of his appearances in the NFL, but he’s missed 12 total games through his first three seasons. Howard has shown plenty of versatility during his NFL career, spending time at both tackle and guard.