According to multiple reports, former Vol linebacker A.J. Johnson has been added to an NFL roster just two weeks after he and former Tennessee teammate Michael Williams were acquitted of rape accusations on July 27th.
Per reports from multiple sources (the news was first released by Mike Klis of 9News), Johnson has been signed by the Denver Broncos to their preseason roster. The move coincides with the Broncos’ decision to cut Stansly Maponga. According to Klis, Denver beat out almost a dozen other NFL teams vying to add Johnson to their roster.
According to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, Denver’s President of Football Operations, John Elway, released a statement shortly after the signing became public:
“A.J. hasn’t had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter. 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.”
Johnson and former teammate Michael Williams were acquitted of rape charges stemming from an incident over three years ago at the conclusion of a trial in Knoxville on July 27th. Both Johnson and Williams were indicted in February of 2015 on aggravated rape charges after a woman accused both men of raping her at Johnson’s apartment in the early morning hours of November 16th, 2014. The trial had been ongoing for years and faced several delays as new evidence was brought forth and new testimonies issued.
But both Johnson and Williams were acquitted a little over two weeks ago, and neither will face jail time.
Johnson played for the Vols from 2011-14 and served as their starting middle linebacker for most of his Tennessee career. He was suspended immediately once the accusations became public in November of 2014, and he and Williams were never reinstated to the Vols’ football program. Both have had their football careers put on hold as the trial continued for over three years.
As a Vol, Johnson totaled 424 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, an interception, and five passes defended.