Less than 24 hours after they released Fred Johnson, the Eagles re-signed the veteran offensive lineman.
The Eagles released the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Johnson late Wednesday afternoon, then announced early Thursday afternoon that they had signed Johnson to a two-year contract.
Presumably, releasing Johnson from his previous contract was a procedural formality that allowed the Eagles to sign him to a new contract.
Johnson’s release was a surprise because the 26-year-old has had a strong training camp and looked to be competing for a spot as a backup offensive lineman on the 53-man roster.
In recent days, he had been taking reps with the second-team offense at left tackle.
With four years of pension credit, Johnson is a vested veteran and not subject to the NFL’s waiver claim process. From the end of the regular season until the trade deadline, vested veterans are not subject to waivers.
So the Eagles did not risk losing Johnson by releasing him.
Johnson initially joined the Eagles’ practice squad on Nov. 8 last year, a week after he was released by the Buccaneers.
When the season ended, the Eagles signed Johnson to a futures contract. This new deal supplants the futures contract.
Johnson initially entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Florida with the Steelers in the summer of 2019. They released him at the end of training camp, and he was claimed by the Bengals.
He remained with Cincinnati for three years, playing in 23 games and starting eight from 2019 through 2021.
The Bengals released Johnson in March of 2022 and a couple weeks later he signed with Tampa. He played in five games and played almost exclusively on special teams last year.
In his career, Johnson has played 729 offensive snaps at both guard and tackle and 66 on special teams.
The Eagles currently have 17 offensive linemen on the 90-man roster. The five starters plus rookie Tyler Steen are roster locks, but there are no real sure things beyond those six.
The NFL’s deadline for rosters to be reduced to 53 is 4 p.m. Tuesday.