The New England Patriots will enter the 2022 league year without a fullback on the roster.
New England declined to place a restricted tender on Johnson before the NFL’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, making the 27-year-old an unrestricted free agent.
Assigned to the Patriots as part of the International Player Pathway Program in 2019, Johnson began his stay on the practice squad after clearing waivers as a rookie. He went on to appear in 37 games.
The Stuttgart, Germany native and University of Tennessee product caught 13 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in the process.
“I would say he definitely started out as the 91st player on the roster and had a long, long, long way to go back in the spring,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had said of Johnson after his promotion to the 53-man roster. “I don’t think anyone ever envisioned him being on the roster or even being on the practice squad, to tell you the truth. But he continued to get better and certainly his physicality and his toughness showed up in the preseason games and the preseason practices.”
Last season, Johnson started six contests while playing 28 percent of the snaps on offense to go with 44 percent of the snaps on special teams. A 65.4 run-blocking grade followed from Pro Football Focus.
He had been retained by New England as an exclusive-rights free agent last March.
The Raiders, now overseen by head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, also reportedly signed former Patriots running back Brandon Bolden on Wednesday.