The Giants bolstered depth along the defensive line, Wednesday, signing former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Austin Johnson, an individual with knowledge of the team’s plans confirms to NJ Advance Media.
Familiarity continues to be a theme for the Giants this offseason, following Johnson’s signing.
Johnson, a Galloway Township native, was chosen by the Tennessee Titans in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He played two of his three collegiate seasons under Giants defensive line coach Sean Spencer, during a productive career at Penn State.
“There’s a lot of versatility on the DL with him,” Titans GM Jon Robinson said of Johnson during the 2016 draft. “He’s a great trait guy and has some quickness. He can win on third down situations.”
A stout run-stopper, Johnson garnered a 72.1 run-defense grade from Pro Football Focus last season, while producing 23 total tackles.
Adding Johnson to the defensive line rotation seems redundant after the Giants used the franchise tag on Leonard Williams on the first day of the new league-year, committing $16.1 million in 2020 to Williams.
It is entirely possible that Johnson could facilitate a Dalvin Tomlinson trade because defensive line and defensive is one of the few strengths on the Giants’ roster.
Tomlinson could be the odd-man-out along a line that includes Johnson, Williams, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence, who were all signed or drafted by Giants general manager Dave Gettleman.
Set to count $1.45 million against the cap in 2020, Tomlinson is entering the final year of his contract, which could make moving on from him an attractive option for Gettleman to free up cap space.
At age 26, and coming off a 25 tackle, four sack season in which he received a 78.1 overall grade and 79 run-stopping grade from Pro Football Focus, Tomlinson could command a strong trade market.