The Denver Broncos signed linebacker A.J. Johnson on Monday, less than three weeks after Johnson was acquitted of aggravated rape charges on July 27th.
Johnson, who last played in a game in 2014 at the University of Tennessee, was added to the Broncos’ roster on Monday and participated in the team’s afternoon practice.
He was suspended from the Tennessee football team in November 2014 after rape charges were filed against him and his former Vols teammate, Michael Williams.
We've signed LB A.J. Johnson and released LB Stansly Maponga.
? » https://t.co/L8BEX8kAAu pic.twitter.com/EinYiF2lys
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 13, 2018
“A.J. hasn’t had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter,” Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said in a statement. “We’ve had several conversations with him since he’s been cleared and have become very familiar with his background and character. Our organization is confident A.J. is ready to move forward and resume his playing career.”
The Broncos released linebacker Stansly Maponga to make room for Johnson on the roster.
“It was a three-year legal battle for this young man. He was cleared in June,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after Monday’s practice. “He wants to play football again. We talked to a lot of his coaches … everyone spoke highly of him, so we’ll see … we’ll see how he fits in.”
Former All-SEC LB A.J. Johnson running through drills minutes after signing with the Broncos. He’s big. Good footwork, too. pic.twitter.com/lvCZ2C1HuD
— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) August 13, 2018
Johnson and Williams were indicted in February 2015 after a woman said both men raped her during a party at Johnson’s apartment in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 2014. Johnson and Williams were suspended from the team less than 48 hours after the party and never played for Tennessee again.
He was a beast at UT, potentially a early round pick, but he hasn’t played in four years. Wildcard with a high upside. Worth the risk for Elway I suppose.