The Denver Broncos on Monday signed former Tennessee Volunteers linebacker AJ Johnson on Monday after he was cleared of rape charges in July 2018.
The 26-year-old rookie hasn’t played football since November 2014 when he was suspended by the Vols over rape allegations, but Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway is confident Johnson is ready to move forward.
“AJ hasn’t had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter,” Elway said.
“We’ve had several conversations with him since he’s been cleared and have become very familiar with his background and character.
“Our organization is confident AJ is ready to move forward and resume his playing career.”
Before his football career was cut short as he dealt with his legal issues, Johnson (6-2, 243 pounds) was a three-time All-SEC selection between 2011 and 2014.
He became the all-time leading tackler in Vols history with 425 tackles, including 218 solo tackles in 46 career games.
Johnson also racked up 30.5 career tackles for a loss, three sacks, one interception, 11 pass breakups, three forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries.
The Gainesville, Georgia native also led Tennessee with 100-plus tackles in each of his final three years, including 23 career double-digit tackle games.
It’s those eye-popping numbers that led to Johnson being heavily courted by a third of NFL teams. Despite his lack of football action in three years, the Broncos gave Johnson a $50,000 signing bonus, more than double the $20,000 offered to undrafted Miami safety Jamal Carter in 2017.
Johnson took part in practice with the Broncos at UCHealth Training Center on Monday and will wear No. 62.
In a corresponding move, the Broncos released linebacker Stansly Maponga.