About Boardroom

Boardroom is a media network that covers the business of sports, entertainment. From the ways that athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward to new technologies, emerging leagues, and industry trends, Boardroom brings you all the news and insights you need to know...

At the forefront of industry change, Boardroom is committed to unique perspectives on and access to the news, trending topics and key players you need to know.

All Rights Reserved. 2022.

The Journey Continues for Veteran QB Josh Johnson

He’s earned a little over $8 million in a career spanning 14 different NFL teams over 15 years. He’s also had stints in the XFL, UFL, and AAF. Boardroom dives into the long, storied career of perennial backup Josh Johnson.

The title of journeyman doesn’t even begin to describe veteran QB Josh Johnson.

A true stalwart of signal-callers, Johnson has played for a record 14 teams in 15 NFL seasons. Adding to that, let’s not forget his time spent in the UFL, AAF, and XFL.

Talk about a true veteran of the game.

But seasoned isn’t the only word you could use to describe Johnson these days. Other titles that come to mind include family man, gamer, philanthropist, entrepreneur, fashion enthusiast, and believer, to name a few. Many of those latter titles have come through various career choices he’s made under the guidance of his agent Doug Hendrickson and the team at Wasserman Football

Having been released by the Denver Broncos earlier this season, many wondered if the 36-year-old signal-caller would hang up his cleats or continue to grind it out in his 15th season as a member of the team’s practice squad. Some even wondered if he would find team No. 15 to add to his record.

He ultimately decided to stick on the Broncos practice suqad, and it’s no surprise. When you talk to Johnson these days, it’s clear there’s only one thing on his mind.

“Right now, football is where I’m at,” said Johnson, while sitting in his car outside the Broncos practice facility only days before the Broncos would face the Jets in Week 7. “I’m going to re-evaluate at 40 years old. Where I feel physically, I know I can make it to 40.”

Johnson recently caught up with Boardroom to talk about his winding journey through the NFL, as well as the many entrepreneurial and charitable endeavors that have helped shape him into the person he is today along the way.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

Josh Johnson, the Player

From a small school program at the University of San Diego to the big stage, Johnson has seen varying levels of success throwing the pigskin over the years.

With a solid showing at the combine, he earned his shot in the pros after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 25th pick of the fifth round in the 2008 NFL Draft. Since then, he’s wavered between being a backup to the occasional QB1 spot start to the practice squad.

Throughout the experience, Johnson said he’s learned not only how to be a professional, but also how to approach and appreciate the game. He often finds himself preaching to younger players the importance of “staying in your lane.”

“The way the NFL locker room is structured, it’s like you’ve got a $25 million dollar guy who is in a totally different realm, but you go out on the practice field with him every day, and then you have a guy that’s making $200K sitting right to him,” Johnson said.

Regardless of talent or paycheck, however, the veteran QB said it’s all about mastering your own domains.

“The reality is that everybody can’t be the guy,” he said.

No matter a player’s situation or role, Johnson believes it to be crucial for players to show up and perform. He cautions those who are looking to have staying power in the NFL to stay away from the “gray area.”

“The NFL is a bottom-line business,” he said. “The evaluation, the gray area does not apply. If you try to operate in the gray area, you can lose your job.”

Johnson’s best year as a pro from a production standpoint was his first with the Bucs, throwing for 685 yards, four touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in six games his rookie season. However, the 2021 season, in which he appeared in three games for the New York Jets, yielded his career-best QB rating of 99.7.

Here’s a look at some of his NFL career stats to date:

  • Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Washington Commanders, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Denver Broncos
  • Games played: 37
  • Games started: 9
  • Passing yards: 2,270
  • Rushing yards: 422
  • Touchdowns: 13
  • Interceptions: 16
  • QB rating: 70.7

There were some seasons throughout his NFL career where Johnson saw no playing time at all. And as previously mentioned, in other years, he looked outside of the shield to get on the field.

In 2012, Johnson played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions in the UFL. Years later in 2018, he played for the San Diego Fleet in the UFL. In 2019, he played for the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL, logging four games while amassing 1,076 yards and 11 touchdowns.

So what does all of this equate to? A decent living slinging passes and handing the ball off for a day job, that’s what. But, Johnson said he refuses to take for granted the opportunity he has to play professional football, referring to two very common clichés used in the NFL.

“You need to maximize your opportunity. It’s a cliché, but you have to control what you can control. Those things are so true and I understand that now at a fine-tuned level,” he said.

As what some might consider an older player in the league, Johnson credits his longevity to not only his physical conditioning regimen — which includes consistent physical therapy and acupuncture — but also a family support system that over the years has allowed him to focus on football, no matter what city his career has taken him.

Those many cities have meant many contracts for Johnson, so let’s dive deeper into the details of his playing career, including just how much he’s earned throughout.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

Josh Johnson, the Moneymaker

From guaranteed money to signing and workout bonuses, Johnson has made a career out of small-dollar contracts and incentives.

In total, his career earnings equate to $8,338,140, according to Spotrac. This includes the $100,000 signing bonus he received from the Denver Broncos this year before being released and the $228,000 salary he earns for being a part of Denver’s practice squad.

But the circumstances of his contract situation have not always been the same from team to team.

In his first year with the Bucs, Johnson earned nearly $1.3 million —$295,000 in salary, $31,375 in a workout bonus, and $970,000 in a roster bonus.

The year in which he earned the most money was 2012 with the Cleveland Browns, bringing in a total of$1,358,823 broken up between contract salary ($700,000) and roster bonus ($658,823).

But his earnings look far different than the contracts he’s signed — a true sign of the potential teams have seen in Johnson over the years. Let’s look at what kind of agreements he’s inked in his playing career.

The Many NFL Contracts of Josh Johnson

Contract details via Spotrac.com

  • 2008-11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 4 years, $1,927,500 (Average salary: $481,875)
  • 2012 Cleveland Browns — 1 year, $700,000
  • 2012-13 San Francisco 49ers — 2 years, $2,115,000 (Average salary: $1,057,500)
    • $350,000 signing bonus
  • 2013-14 Cincinnati Bengals — 2 years, $1,895,000 (Average salary: $947,500)
    • $150,000 signing bonus
  • 2014 San Francisco 49ers — 1 year, $730,000
  • 2015 Cincinnati Bengals — 1 year, $825,000
    • $50,000 signing bonus
  • 2015 New York Jets — 1 year, $745,000
  • 2015 Buffalo Bills — 1 year, $745,000
  • 2016 New York Giants — 1 year, $885,000
  • 2017 Houston Texans — 1 year, $900,000
  • 2017-18 New York Giants — 2 years, $1,950,000 (Average salary: $975,000)
  • 2018 Washington Commanders — 1 year, $915,000
  • 2018 Oakland Raiders — 1 year, $1,005,000
  • 2021 Baltimore Ravens — 1 year, $1,075,000
  • 2022 Denver Broncos — 1 year, $1,220,000
    • $100,000 signing bonus
  • 2022 Denver Broncos — 1 year, $288,000 (practice squad)

Josh Johnson, the Entrepreneur

The success Johnson has seen on the field, however, pales in comparison to the impact he’s made — and continues to make — off of it. Outside of football, Johnson has built quite a portfolio of investments.

Not only is he the co-founder and COO of the Ultimate Gaming League, but he’s also a part-owner and captain of the UGL franchise, Da Fam Gaming. Joining him in gaming ownership is former running back Marshawn Lynch and Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters.

“The UGL is a passion,” Johnson said. “Gaming is a passion.”

Having grown up playing Atari, Johnson said he’s excited about the gaming community he and his partners are building, particularly the growing following on Discord. He’s also stoked on what future forrays into the NFT marketplace will look like in this space.

In addition to gaming, Johnson is also working on his own lifestyle apparel brand — Family First, a collective that brings together the design and craftsmanship of Milan in collaboration with the style and culture of Oakland. Having seen firsthand how Lynch launched his own lifestyle brand, Beast Mode, Johnson said he was inclined to see if he could cut his teeth in the fashion world.

His apparel line, according to Johnson, is not just straight athletic gear, either. It’s designer, streetwear, and casual, all under the same umbrella.

“Fashion is real new for me,” he said, adding that the clothing line is just starting to pick up steam organically.

Above all else, however, Johnson is the co-founder of Fam 1st Family Foundation, an Oakland-based nonprofit dedicated to the “empowerment and elevation of underserved youth and to contribute to broader economic, athletic, educational and experiential opportunities that impact long-term community growth and self-sustainability.”

The venture began in 2011, but the inspiration started much earlier than that. Johnson credits his mother for showing him the importance of working hard and giving back to your community, which led him to Fam 1st Family.

While at first the goal of the foundation was to assist youth in Oakland, the mission has since expanded globally. The positive impact Johnson hopes to make on his community can range anywhere from football camps and one-day workshops, to free programs where kids can learn everything from coding to agriculture, to graphic design, business, and more.

“We’re helping the community one kid at a time,” said Johnson. “It’s creating a unique structure where the community helps the community.”

No matter what comes next — more football or focusing on his portfolio — Johnson makes it clear that his approach won’t waiver.

“Keep pushing, keep pursuing, keep building,” he said.

“It’s just like football, stacking the days on top of each other, finding the consistency, being a sponge to the people who’ve done it, surrounding yourself with the right people, and just going out there and being practical in my approach.”

Read More:

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.