Johnson is vying for a backup job in Denver, his 14th NFL team

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Journeyman Broncos quarterback Josh Johnson has been signed, released, and re-signed so many times during his NFL career that he’s lost count.

For the record: 27 signings/re-signings to go with 17 exits/cuts covering 14 different teams, according to its long transaction page.

The 36-year-old can’t instantly remember every quarterback he’s backed, faced or beaten since being picked in the fifth round by Tampa Bay in 2008. He had to think for a long time right to name those he’s crossed paths with those who’ve won Super Bowl titles (three, by his count).

“If I leave anyone out, sorry,” Johnson said with a laugh after a recent practice, where he continues to make a solid case to back up Russell Wilson. “Being able to throw the ball, put on that shirt, it’s a blessing. I’m just enjoying every minute of every moment.

His arm and his experience have opened many doors for him. He signed a total of seven times with San Francisco (including the practice squad), three times with the New York Jets, and twice each with Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Houston, New York Giants and Baltimore. He also has contracts with the Bucs, Cleveland, Buffalo, Raiders, Washington, Detroit and now Denver, which he signed in March.

That’s a lot of teammates – and playbooks – in a career where he’s played 37 games and started nine times. For his career, he has 13 TD passes, 16 interceptions and 2,270 passing yards.

He’s just enjoying the ride – whirlwind as it is (he’s had assignments with teams that only lasted a few days).

“I’m not really here to prove people wrong anymore,” said Johnson, who was recruited from the University of San Diego, an FCS program.

Super-Bowl winning callers he’s worked with include Eli Manning with the Giants, Joe Flacco when they were teammates with the Jets last season and these days, Wilson.

He received some advice some time ago that turned out to be extremely applicable.

“Control what you can control and understand that no matter who you are, the nature of this business seeks to replace you unless you don’t allow it,” said Johnson, who is competing with Brett Rypien for the spot. No. 2 as the Broncos open the preseason Saturday against Dallas at home. “I am grateful for the trip itself.”

His statistical best season was 2009 with Tampa Bay, when he played in six games (four starts) and threw for 685 yards with his first career TD pass — an 8-yard strike off Antonio Bryant.

Last December, he was on the Jets’ practice squad when he was signed to the active roster by Baltimore. The Ravens needed another QB in Lamar Jackson who was recovering from an ankle injury. Just 11 days later, Johnson found himself starting after Tyler Huntley went on the COVID-19 list. Johnson threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-21 loss at Cincinnati.

His experience played a part in bringing him on to Broncos first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett.

“I think he’s as old as me,” said Hackett, who is 42. “He’s seen so much that he can come into the game at any time and play.”

Johnson is enjoying his time with Wilson, who the Broncos traded in the offseason in hopes of ending a six-year playoff drought.

“He sets the tone and we all follow,” Johnson said of Wilson, who led Seattle to a Super Bowl victory over the Broncos after the 2013 season. energy every day.”

Johnson’s football excursions have also included suits for the XFL’s LA Wildcats, where he led the league in passer ratings (106.3).

To stay grounded in all of football’s uncertainty, Johnson kept his base of operations in his hometown of Oakland, California. He has three children.

“My trials and tribulations are not my family’s,” said Johnson, who started a foundation with his cousin, longtime NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, which focuses on empowering youth by more than helping start a league of games. “They have to endure with me because I go through ups and downs, but for them I try to bring as much consistency as possible.”

Another number: 40. This is the age Johnson would like to be when he steps away from the field (if not longer).

“Because playing quarterback,” Johnson said, “is very high on my list of things I like to do.”

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