Josh Johnson last appeared in an NFL game in 2014. He hasn’t thrown a pass in a regular-season game since 2011.
Yet the veteran quarterback, now 31, signed with the Oakland Raiders Monday and will compete with Connor Cook for the backup quarterback job.
Johnson was with the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans during 2017 and has bounced around from the 49ers in 2014 — when he last entered a game — to the Bengals, Jets, Colts, Bills and Ravens before signing with the Giants.
His signing with the Raiders, however, represents a homecoming. The Oakland Tech graduate — who went on to play in college for Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego — is finally getting a chance to play for the team he followed growing up.
"As a kid, you think and dream some things like this, but the reality of it, sometimes you never really know, especially when you come from Oakland, because you don’t really think these things are attainable," Johnson told Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com. "But to actually wear this hat, (being) able to put this helmet on, wear this jersey, it’s going to be an unreal feeling that right now I can’t even tap into."
Johnson also is joining his cousin, running back Marshawn Lynch, whom he played with in high school, and connecting once more with head coach Jon Gruden, the coach at Tampa Bay who picked Johnson in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, and offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who also was with the Bucs.
"I'm excited to be back with 'cuz,'" Johnson said of Lynch. "We were just talking about it, last time we actually played together was our championship game in the Coliseum, and we won that game, so we ended with a bang. We're about to start it up with another bang together with this, and getting this thing going for this 2018 season."
Johnson's bid to make the regular-season roster could be a long shot, however. The Raiders are likely to bring in another quarterback or two by this spring, and Johnson’s age and lack of playing time in recent years could make him a far different quarterback than he was when he first broke into the league.
Then, with the Bucs, Johnson was a young man with a strong arm and quick feet. He appeared in 26 games for Tampa Bay from 2009-2011, starting five. The Bucs lost all five of those starts and Johnson threw five touchdown passes while being picked off 10 times.
But Johnson knows Gruden, has been around the league for a long while and can provide some extra stability in the quarterback room and on the field during spring workouts and summer training camp.
And, you never know. Johnson could step into the Gruden offense and play well. Last year with the Giants in preseason games, Johnson was effective. He completed 22-of-34 throws for 239 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 95.1.
Said Johnson of joining the Raiders: "I'm just excited that they got him (Gruden) back up in this building and I can be here, and be a part of helping building this thing with him, and then doing my part to help this team get to the level it’s supposed to be."