When the XFL was gearing up towards its 2020 season we saw eight quarterbacks assigned to each of the franchises. One of those players was football journeyman Josh Johnson who was placed on the Los Angeles Wildcats.
This was shortly after he had tried out for the Detroit Lions, but the XFL pulled the trigger first. During the Lions 2019 season their star quarterback (at the time) Matthew Stafford sustained a season ending injury. This prompted the Lions organization to try and bring Johnson back in, only to be blocked by the XFL.
Despite the Wildcats finishing 2-3 in the 5-game shortened season season in 2020, Johnson performed admirably in 4 games (missing week 1 with an injury) by converting 60% of his passes, completing 81 out of 135 attempts for 1,076 yards for 11 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions for a QB rating of 106.3.
When the XFL was forced to shutter operations and ultimately file bankruptcy due to COVID, Josh Johnson was quick to be picked up. He spent some time with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, but team decided to let him go over the summer. Since then he had signed with the New York Jets as their third string quarterback.
Mike White had become a bit of a fan favorite since filling in for Zach Wilson, but his luck came to an end last night when he forced out of the game.
Following a first-quarter touchdown pass to Elijah Moore against the Indianapolis Colts, White exited the game with a right forearm injury, later stating that the middle fingers on his throwing hand went numb but that he’ll be ready to return to action when needed.
White, who took over two weeks prior for rookie starter Zach Wilson, was listed as questionable, but never returned as Josh Johnson took over at quarterback to begin the second quarter of an eventual 45-30 Jets loss that dropped New York to 2-6.
Although the Jets couldn’t secure the victory, Johnson played spectacularly. He finished the game 27 for 41 for 317 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Josh, I thought he did an awesome job, coming in,” Saleh said. “Ran the offense exactly how it’s supposed to be run. Hitting the open receivers, moving the chains.”
Johnson is a journeyman in the NFL. He’s played for 13 different franchises, including a 10-day stint with the Jets in the 2015 preseason. He’s appeared in regular-season games with four teams: Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Washington. During his tenure he’s had eight starts in 33 games, including four with Tampa Bay in 2009 and three with Washington in 2018.
Last week we saw three former XFL quarterbacks see action in the NFL. This week looks to be the same. Beyond Josh Johnson coming in for the Jets Taylor Heinicke will be starting for the Washington Football Team and former Houston Roughnecks star PJ Walker will be starting for the Carolina Panthers this weekend.
The XFL is currently under new ownership and working towards a 2023 return, but little details are known at the moment. One thing that we do know, the XFL worked. The XFL allowed these players to get some extra playing time and showcase their skills on national television. We look forward to seeing which stars will come out of the league next.
Who is your favorite former XFL player in the NFL? Which former XFL talent would you like to see join the NFL? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.