Ex-Vikings DT Heads to Falcons

Ex-Vikings DT Heads to Falcons
Jul 27, 2022; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons helmets. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

The Atlanta Falcons are 5-6 through 11 games in 2022, a whisker away from the NFC’s final playoff seed.

Atlanta was supposed to be in NFL’s cellar, according to pundits, before the season began, so the near-.500 mark is somewhat impressive. And just 1.5 games out of the No. 7 seed, the Falcons made a roster move on Monday, adding former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson off waivers from the Houston Texans.

Johnson, 28, played for the Vikings from 2017 to 2020 and has embarked on a twisty adventure since leaving Minnesota.

Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports.

After departing the Vikings via free agency in the spring of 2021, this is Johnson’s resume:

  • Houston Texans (2021, 1st stint)
  • New Orleans Saints (2021, 1st stint)
  • Houston Texans (2021, 2nd stint)
  • New Orleans Saints (2022, 2nd stint)
  • Atlanta Falcons (2022, 1st stint)
  • Houston Texans (2022, 3rd stint)
  • Atlanta Falcons (current, 2nd stint)

Johnson basically goes back and forth between the same three teams repeatedly. He lasted about seven weeks in Houston during his third stint with that team. Atlanta already has Grady Jarrett, Abdullah Anderson, and Matt Dickerson on the active roster at DT, but Johnson will serve as depth.

Selected by the Vikings in the 4th Round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Johnson spent four seasons in Minnesota, playing 53 games while starting 20. In fact, he started all 16 games in 2020 after Linval Joseph departed the organization, Michael Pierce opted out because of COVID, and Shamar Stephen shifted to nose tackle.

Nov 22, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (94) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

But the experiment was unsuccessful as Johnson tallied a lowly 35.3 grade from Pro Football Focus and was correspondingly not retained by the Vikings for the 2021 season. Johnson used 2021 free agency to latch onto the Houston Texans, registering another underwhelming PFF grade of 44.4.

Johnson has played in 68 career games and logged 115 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 11 QB hits, and 6.5 sacks.

Atlanta also employs former Vikings Dylan Mabin (CB, PS), Cordarrelle Patterson (RB), and MyCole Pruitt (TE). They’ll play the Vikings again in 2023 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Falcons have a 20% chance of reaching the postseason, per FiveThirtyEight.

Johnson was teammates with C.J. Beathard, Christian Kirksey, Noah Fant, George Kittle, and Brandon Scherff at the University of Iowa.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).