Defensive lineman Toby Johnson just signed with the Pirates for the 2021 season. This will be his second stint with the team. Back in 2019, Johnson played in 9 games for the Pirates, recording 7 sacks. More recently, in 2020, Johnson was drafted by the XFL’s New York Guardians but his contract was terminated when the league suspended operations. Undrafted after college, Johnson played for six NFL organizations between ‘15 and ‘18, mostly as a practice squad member. As a UDFA in May of 2015 Johnson signed with the Tennessee Titans and made the practice squad. He was released before the regular season began. The Jacksonville Jaguars then signed and released him a few weeks later. Towards the end of 2015, the Chicago Bears signed Johnson but again released him soon after. In 2016 Johnson was an on-again, off-again member of the Minnesota Vikings. He is credited with making 2 tackles. The team officially released him in the spring of 2017. Johnson’s next stop was the Carolina Panthers, who waived him just before the start of the NFL’s 2017 season. In late ‘17 Johnson was again signed, this time by the Detroit Lions. On January 1, 2018, he signed a reserve/future clause with the Lions, allowing him to attend training camp in the summer. Detroit ended up being Johnson’s final stop in his NFL career. He was released before the ‘18 season got underway.
Johnson played defensive tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2013 and 2014. In ‘13 he appeared in 10 games for the ‘Dawgs as a backup due to a knee injury he’d sustained a year prior. Johnson came back strong in ‘14 playing in 13 games, 4 as a starter. On the season he recorded 27 tackles and 2 sacks. Against Auburn, Johnson had a career-high 6 tackles. He was the recipient of the David Jacobs Football Scholarship award both seasons at Georgia. Johnson’s ability to rush the passer and collapse the pocket had him on the radar of several NFL teams as his college career came to an end.
Before playing for the Bulldogs, Johnson spent two seasons, 2011 and 2012, at Hutchinson Community College (Kansas) playing for the Blue Dragons. As the nation’s number one JC recruit, Johnson was forced to play through double teams but still managed to record 50 tackles and 2 sacks in ‘11. The following year he had 37 tackles and 3 sacks. After winning the annual NJCAA Salt City Bowl in ‘12 by the score of 41-21 over Iowa Central, Johnson earned All-American honors. Johnson was an All-State tight end in high school. He is entering his age-29 season with the Pirates.