Former Vikings Defensive Tackle Jaleel Johnson Signs With Houston Texans

Johnson becomes the latest Vikings unrestricted free agent to find a new home.
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Former Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson is signing with the Houston Texans, he announced on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

Johnson, who turns 27 this summer, was drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round out of Iowa in 2017. He started 20 games for Minnesota in four years, including all 16 games last season, and finishes his Vikings career with 87 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

The Vikings had high hopes for Johnson after he had 7.5 sacks in his final season for the Hawkeyes, but he was never able to put it all together in Minnesota. He displayed some potential as a rotational defensive tackle through his first three seasons, including a 2019 season where he had a solid 4.5 percent pressure rate and 3.5 sacks.

Last season, with Linval Joseph departing in free agency and Michael Pierce opting out due to COVID-19, Johnson became a full-time starter for the first time. Out of 125 qualified DTs, he finished 123rd in PFF grade. Johnson was in over his head as a starter, with an abysmal 2.1 percent pressure rate and poor run defense. He was too easily washed out of plays, unable to get off blocks, and was hopeless against double teams.

Still, Johnson showed flashes of upside at times. This was one of his best plays of the year:

Now Johnson will look to resurrect his career in Houston. He'll have to compete to make the team out of training camp, but his experience learning from Andre Patterson, Joseph, and others could give him a leg up on younger players.

Johnson becomes the eighth former Viking to sign with a new team this offseason, joining Riley Reiff (Bengals), Anthony Harris and Eric Wilson (Eagles), Kyle Rudolph and Ifeadi Odenigbo (Giants), and Shamar Stephen and Mike Boone (Broncos).

The Vikings are set at DT on early downs with Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson, and have Armon Watts and James Lynch as depth. They could still use a more traditional three-tech who can create interior pressure.

With Johnson and Odenigbo departing this offseason, Dalvin Cook is the only member of the Vikings' 11-man 2017 draft class still with the team.

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