Danny Johnson has spent his entire pro career in Washington, and is on his third NFL team...sort of. Johnson is one of the few players who will, at the end of his career, be able to say that he played for the Redskins, the Washington Football Team, and the Washington Commanders. He was re-signed to the roster for 2022, the team announced today.
No details were given for Johnson’s contract, but he is likely to have signed for the league minimum salary; last year he signed for $660,000 according to Over the Cap. His contract is unlikely to change the team’s available cap space, as he will not be among the team’s 51 largest contracts.
By re-signing its own players, Washington is showing a measure of loyalty, but it can also be seen as deliberately protecting the 3rd round comp pick the team is projected to receive for the departure of Brandon Scherff. With the addition of Danny Johnson, the team now has 67 players under contract for the 2022 season.
Undrafted out of Southern University in 2018, Danny Johnson has spent his career on the edge of Washington’s roster as a backup cornerback and sometimes kick returner. He spent almost the entire 2019 season on PUP/IR, and much of the 2021 season on the practice squad.
In 42 career games, Johnson has amassed just 477 defensive snaps, per PFF, but he has 650 special teams snaps, and was the team’s primary kickoff returner in 2020, when he returned 26 kickoffs for 573 yards, averaging 22 yards per return. Last season, the team turned to specialist return man Deandre Carter, who had 36 returns for 904 yards — including a touchdown return that went 101 yards — for a 25.1 yard average. Carter has not yet re-signed with the Commanders, nor has he signed with any other team. Johnson’s return to the roster provides Ron Rivera with a capable kick return man if Carter decides to leave in free agency.
Even when he’s not returning kickoffs, however, Johnson is an integral part of all phases of special teams. He is also a capable backup CB, earning a grade of 65.4 on 336 defensive snaps in 2021, when he was heavily relied on for the final 11 games of the season after Torry McTyer went down with a season-ending injury against the Falcons.
Johnson will compete for a spot as a backup CB, special teams player, and starting or backup kick return man. With his range of skills, he has a good chance of doing what he’s done for the past 4 years; that is, he has a good chance to earn his way onto Washington’s roster.