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Well-traveled quarterback Josh Johnson finds his way to Denver Broncos

Johnson had his only two 300-yard passing performances, for 2 different teams, last year at 35 years old. He's lead candidate to serve as Russell Wilson's backup.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After playing for 14 years in three professional football leagues for 16 teams with just 8 NFL starts, Josh Johnson, at 35 years old, came off the bench for the New York Jets last November and threw for a career-best 317 yards and 3 touchdowns in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

He was reverted back to the Jets’ practice squad the next day.

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A month later, the practice squad was the right place to be because the QB-stricken Baltimore Ravens not only signed him away, Johnson made an emergency start 11 days later, throwing for 304 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to the Bengals.

Two comebacks in the same year.

“Just waiting in the shadows till I can fulfill my dream,’’ Johnson said Friday night in a phone interview with 9NEWS.

Johnson was called because he reached agreement with the Broncos on a one-year contract Friday. He will be in town Monday to take his physical and sign his deal. The Broncos are Johnson’s 17th team. He’s also been with the 49ers three times, the Jets twice and the Ravens twice. In 2018 he played for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football and in 2019 for the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL.

After two 300-yard passing games for two teams last year, Johnson was back in demand this offseason. He is likely to become the Broncos’ No. 2 quarterback to Russell Wilson, although he will receive competition from Brett Rypien, who returns for his fourth season in Denver.

“The Broncos reached out, I assessed my opportunities and felt good about it,’’ Johnson said. “Standard procedure with free agency.

“Had another opportunity with another team. I talked to coach (Nathaniel) Hackett, and (general manager) George Paton. Talked to Russ. Had a chance to evaluate their roster and see what they’re trying to establish there.’’

Johnson turns 36 in May. After the all the places he’s been, the different teams and leagues, why doesn’t he hang it up? Why does he continue to persevere and keep at it?

Credit: AP
New York Jets quarterback Josh Johnson looks to throw during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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“You answered it, it’s about perseverance,’’ he said. “It’s not falling into a trap of doing what society says you should when things don’t fall your way. The only way to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself is to put yourself in a position where your available. You go to other leagues to keep your game sharp. You’re not afraid to grind it out. I went to a non-scholarship college, I’m used to working for everything I get.”

At the University of San Diego, Johnson said he worked at a hotel, the campus financial aid office, did janitorial service, worked at summer camps. He is currently engaged with three children ages 4 to 13.

“Being in the outside world, it’s a different perspective but it’s also a humbling perspective,’’ he said. “It can be a grind, but I’ve never afraid to grind it out.”

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