When the Texans called veteran defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, he was faced with a fast decision.
Johnson could remain on the New Orleans Saints' practice squad, or he could rejoin the Texans on their 53-man roster after being cut at the close of the preseason. The Texans had an immediate need after starting defensive tackle Vincent Taylor suffered an ankle injury that will require surgery with Dr. James Varner performing the procedure and will force him to be placed on injured reserve and sidelined for six to eight weeks, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Johnson opted to come back to Houston and is traveling Tuesday night to start practicing with his teammates this week in advance of Sunday's road game against the Cleveland Browns.
In a telephone interview after Sports Talk 790 reported he was being signed by the Texans, Johnson emphasized that he's happy to be back with the AFC South franchise after building strong friendships with teammates this offseason.
"It was tough regardless of being on the practice squad versus the 53 man roster, the Saints are a great organization," Johnson said. "Being around this culture, it was fun. Ultimately, it came down to knowing the Texans' system. Just being familiar with the system and just being around those guys since OTAs and training camp and preseason."
Johnson was released by the Texans during the final major roster cutdown to 53 players.
Johnson joined the Texans this offseason on a one-year, $1.3 million contract that included $400,000 guaranteed with a $100,000 signing bonus, a $300,000 base salary guarantee of his $1 million base salary and up to $200,000 in per-game active roster bonuses ($11,764 per game) along with playtime incentive clauses that could net him another $600,000.
Johnson is coming off his most productive season with the Minnesota Vikings last year. He started every game last season for the first time in his career and recorded a career-high 44 tackles as the replacement for Michael Pierce when he opted out of the season due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Two seasons ago, Johnson had a career-high 3 ½ sacks and five tackles for losses.
Johnson has 87 career tackles and five sacks.
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.