The Tennessee Titans trimmed their roster down to 85 by releasing five players on Tuesday afternoon, including wide receiver Josh Malone and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett. Titans General Manager Jon Robinson also made an intriguing addition by claiming versatile defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. off waivers, per Tom Pelissero.
The No. 54 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Johnson originally entered the league with Tennessee’s AFC South rival Houston Texans. Johnson was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this offseason, but the Chiefs waived him earlier this week. Tennessee quickly pounced on his availability.
It indicates the Titans are intrigued by Johnson’s versatile skill set. Much is made by Tennessee’s penchant for acquiring former Texans players, but it’s worth noting head coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Shane Bowen were already in Tennessee when Johnson was drafted by Houston. Titans defensive backs coach Anthony Midget DID coach Johnson in Houston, however. New passing game coordinator Tim Kelly and inside linebackers coach Bobby King also spent time in Houston with Johnson. Tennessee’s staff has plenty of connections to their new addition.
Johnson can play both cornerback and safety. The Titans have had injuries at cornerback throughout the summer (Chris Jackson, Elijah Molden and Roger McCreary), but they remain relatively deep at corner, and could be looking at Johnson as a safety. Johnson has excellent size and length at 6-foot-2, 213 pounds. Johnson also has some experience as a tight ends matchup guy. The Titans lost two of those types in Jayon Brown and Dane Cruikshank earlier this offseason. Johnson could compete for that role alongside the likes of A.J. Moore and Theo Jackson.
Johnson isn’t a lock to make Tennessee’s initial 53-man roster. In fact, joining the fray this late indicates he’s still a long shot. The former Kentucky product is worth the flier. The Titans will aim to evaluate Johnson over the next few weeks.