Titans Sign Former Vikings Defender

Former Vikings Offensive Lineman Heads to Tennessee
Dec 4, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Tennessee Titans helmet on the bench against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Free-agent moves here and there will hit the wire this month and next, and the Tennessee Titans reportedly reached a deal with a former Minnesota Vikings defender on Monday.

Titans Sign Former Vikings Defender

He’s Jaleel Johnson, an alumnus of the 2017 NFL Draft, where the Vikings found him in Round 4.

Titans Sign Former
Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (94) looks on before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

KPRC 2 Houston‘s Aaron Wilson tweeted, “Titans signing veteran defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, per a league source.”

The 28-year-old will vie for a regular season spot inside Mike Vrabel’s 2023 defense, a situation that could go either way. All NFL teams must shave rosters from 90 men to 53 on August 29th, plopping about 1,200 men into free agency on a single day, aside from those who earn practice squad assignments.

Dec 8, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham (30) and defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (94) celebrate after the game against Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s Johnson’s resume to date:

  • Minnesota Vikings (2017–2020)
  • *New Orleans Saints (2021)
  • Houston Texans (2021)
  • *New Orleans Saints (2022)
  • Houston Texans (2022)
  • Atlanta Falcons (2022)
  • Tennessee Titans (2023)
    * = No regular season playing time

And the Pro Football Focus grades by year:

  • 2017 = 60.0
  • 2018 = 53.7
  • 2019 = 50.9
  • 2020 = 35.3
  • 2021 = 44.4
  • 2022 = 43.6
Nov 17, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (94) sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen (2) during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports.

Johnson played for the Vikings from 2017 to 2020 and has indeed embarked on a bendy adventure since leaving Minnesota. Selected by Minnesota in 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.

He’s played in 74 career games and logged 125 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 12 QB hits, and 6.5 sacks.

Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson (94) celebrates after the game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Johnson must steal a roster spot from this current hodgepodge of Titans defensive tackles:

  • DT1: Jeffery Simmons
  • DT2: Denico Autry
  • DT3: Jayden Peevy
  • DT4: Sam Okuayinonu
  • DT5: Curtis Brooks
  • DT6: TK McLendon Jr.
  • DT7: Shakel Brown

With Johnson’s addition to the 90-man roster, that’s eight DTs. The Titans kept five after 2022 roster trimdowns.

Tennessee has around +350 odds to win the AFC South in 2023, currently playing second fiddle to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that pulled off one the most triumphant playoff comebacks in NFL history over the Los Angeles Chargers in January.

The Titans also employ former Vikings linebacker Zach McCloud.

Johnson was teammates with C.J. Beathard, Christian Kirksey, Noah Fant, George Kittle, and Brandon Scherff at the University of Iowa. He’ll turn 29 in July.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.