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Josh Johnson career timeline: How NFL’s ultimate journeyman QB has played for 14 teams (and counting)

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Few players in NFL history have the staying power of Josh Johnson.

The journeyman quarterback has played for a record 14 NFL teams — an incredible 43.75 percent of the league’s franchises. The signal-caller, who began his career with the Buccaneers in 2008, has since gone on to carve a longstanding niche role throughout the league.

Johnson’s latest stop is with the 49ers, who signed him to a one-year deal off the Broncos’ practice squad following the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13. (Which, of course, was necessitated by the season-ending ankle injury to Trey Lance in Week 1.)

Curiously, this isn’t the first time the 36-year-old Johnson has played for the 49ers. Indeed, this is his fourth stint in San Francisco, though each of the previous three times was as an offseason or practice-squad member. His elevation to the active roster was necessitated by the team’s quarterback situation.

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Still, it doesn’t do anything to diminish the incredible nature of Johnson’s longevity in the league. Even if he hasn’t impacted the game as a starter, his career arc is worth noting.

With that, The Sporting News looks at Johnson’s curious career in the NFL, which has seen him take on roles as a practice squad member, career backup and, more rarely, a starting quarterback:

Josh Johnson NFL Draft

Johnson was a fifth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, getting selected 160th overall by the Buccaneers following a four-year career at the University of San Diego, where he completed 724 of 1,065 passes (68 percent) for 9,699 yards and 113 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.

Those stats, combined with an impressive showing at the 2008 NFL Combine — where he posted positional bests in both the 40-yard dash (4.53 seconds) and vertical jump (33 1/2 inches) — made him a viable draft target for several teams.

Tampa Bay’s selection of the Toreros quarterback was part of a trade that sent its 153rd overall pick to New England for the Patriots’ 160th and 238th overall picks.

With that, the Bucs set in motion an NFL career that no one saw coming. Johnson played for four seasons in Tampa Bay before going on one of the most incredible tours in the history of the league.

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How many teams has Josh Johnson played for?

Johnson has played for 14 teams in his 15-year NFL career, including several stints as a practice-squad member.

His longest continuous stint with a single team came with the franchise that drafted him: Four seasons with the Buccaneers, from 2008 through 2011. The team for which he has played the most times is San Francisco, which has signed him four separate times, in 2012, 2014, 2020-21 and 2022.

Johnson has seen action in 31 career NFL games, starting nine. He is 1-8 as a starter, completing 205 of 353 career passes (58.1 percent) for 2,270 yards and 13 touchdowns to 16 interceptions.

Johnson has also played for several teams outside the NFL, including the United Football League’s Sacramento Mountain Lions (2012), the Alliance of American Football’s San Diego Fleet (2019) and XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats (2020).

Here is Johnson’s career timeline in the NFL:

  • Buccaneers (20082011)
  • 49ers (2012)*
  • Browns (2012)
  • Bengals (2013)
  • 49ers (2014)*
  • Bengals (2015)*
  • Jets (2015)*
  • Colts (2015)
  • Bills (2015)
  • Ravens (2016)*
  • Giants (2016)
  • Texans (2017)
  • Raiders (2018)*
  • Redskins (2018)
  • Lions (2019)*
  • 49ers (20202021)*
  • Jets (2021)
  • Ravens (2021)
  • Broncos (2022)
  • 49ers (2022present)

* Indicates offseason or practice-squad member

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Josh Johnson NFL career earnings

With the 49ers signing Johnson to a one-year, $1.12 million contract, Spotrac lists Johnson’s career earnings in the NFL at $8,569,250 — roughly $276,427.41 per game played.

Here’s his team-by-team salary breakdown:

  • Buccaneers: $1.39 million (four seasons)
  • 49ers: $1.72 million (six seasons)
  • Browns: $1.15 million (one season)
  • Bills: $525,882 (one season)
  • Colts: $87,646 (two seasons)
  • Giants: $1 million (two seasons)
  • Texans: $158,823 (two seasons)
  • Redskins: $148,235 (one season)
  • Ravens: $238,888 (one season)
  • Jets: $417,166 (two seasons)
  • Broncos: $370,222 (two seasons)

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