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DL Austin Johnson signs one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills

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By: Matt Byham

Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Johnson, who came highly recommended by DaQuan Jones, liked what he found with One Bills Drive this past Wednesday

Free-agent defensive lineman Austin Johnson has signed a one-year contract to play for the Buffalo Bills during the 2024 NFL season. Johnson’s signing comes three days after his visit to One Bills Drive.

In a cool break from tradition, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones was the first to announce Johnson’s signing with the Bills. The big man with an even larger personality has been a massive hype man for Austin Johnson since the news of his visit to Orchard Park, NY first made waves.

Ian Rapoport later added that Johnson’s one-year deal is worth up to $4 million.

Jones and Johnson have a friendship that goes back to their time together with the Tennessee Titans. With the addition of Austin Johnson, the Bills gain another versatile defensive lineman who’s played on the outside in 3-4 systems, inside as a dedicated nose tackle, and also as an interior defensive tackle lining up next to players in the mold of DaQuan Jones.

Tennessee Titans v Carolina Panthers
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Standing 6’4” and 314 pounds, Johnson will undoubtedly stand out in a crowd, even among some of Buffalo’s largest linemen. Johnson, who’s set to turn 30 in May, has eight years of NFL experience on his professional resume, and saw his most significant work last season in his second campaign with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Johnson was initially a second-round draft pick of the Titans during the 2016 NFL Draft. After his four-year rookie contract ended, Johnson signed with the New York Giants as a free agent — which allowed him to return to his roots of New Jersey. After two seasons with the Giants, Johnson entered free agency again, choosing to sign out west with the Chargers.

Through eight seasons in the NFL, Johnson has started 55 of 116 games, making 241 tackles (125 solo), 17 tackles for loss, and 17 quarterback hits. Johnson also has 10 pass defenses, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and eight sacks.

Johnson’s most productive campaign was in 2021, when playing right defensive end for the G-men. That season he started all 17 games and posted career highs as a backfield disruptor — earning sacks (3.5), tackles (71) solo tackles (31), tackles for loss (6), and quarterback hits (7).

His most recent stop in LA saw Johnson start every game he appeared in (25) — a clear sign of the important role he played for the Chargers’ defense. Johnson’s 2022 season was cut short due to a knee fracture and MCL injury that landed him on season-ending Injured Reserve after eight games. He returned in 2023 to start and play all 17 games with Los Angeles.

The Bills’ signing of Austin Johnson provides the team with yet another starting-caliber interior defender who boasts plenty of scheme versatility. As such, Johnson should find himself to be a perfect fit as a rotational player with the Buffalo Bills.

Originally posted on Buffalo Rumblings