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2021 NFL Free Agency: Houston Texans Sign Defensive Tackle Jaleel Johnson

Texans rescind offer to P.J. Hall, grab former Viking instead

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

New Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio has seemingly signed more than half the available free agents this offseason and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Add Jaleel Johnson to the list of new Texans.

Mighty Matt Weston detailed P.J. Hall’s apparent re-signing a few weeks ago, but it seems that was a head fake from Caserio.

Hall, a former Oakland Raider turned Houston Texan, played in ten games for H-Town last season. He combined for 34 tackles, 18 solo stops, 16 assists, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. While he certainly didn’t light the world on fire, Hall showed solid backup abilities. He seemed to be a bright spot in Houston’s otherwise dismal 2020 defense until getting bit by the injury bug.

Oddly enough, Hall was originally traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 2020 from Oakland before failing a physical that ultimately led to him landing in Houston.

Jaleel Johnson Joins The Houston Texans

Some teams are just known for producing certain types of players. The Pittsburgh Steelers used to churn out top tier linebackers like nobody’s business. The New England Patriots always seem to have a gadget running back/receiver or two on the roster. For the Minnesota Vikings, defensive linemen have been a hallmark of the team’s best years. From Alan Page and Jim Marshall. Carl Eller to Chris Doleman. Keith Millard to John Randle to Jared Allen to the “Williams Wall” of Kevin and Pat Williams. On to Everson Griffen and beyond, the Vikings have historically seen the defensive line as a source of strength for the team.

So what does that say about Jaleel Johnson?

The 6’3”, 316 lb. defensive tackle has played all four of his pro seasons in Minnesota. He’s played in 53 games, starting 20. His 2020 production was slightly ahead of Hall’s, with 44 combined tackles, 22 solo stops, 22 assists, 3 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks. However, Johnson started all 16 games last season, while Hall started just 9. You can skew this 1 of 3 ways:

1) Johnson is clearly a better player than Hall.

2) Johnson benefited from a better defensive system/surrounding players than Hall.

3) Hall is a better player and with an equal number of starts would have put up superior numbers.

The Vikings’ defense, not unlike Houston, has been one of the better units in the league over the last decade. However, 2020 saw them take a giant leap backwards due to injuries and COVID-19 created roster holes. As the Vikings go all in to get their defense back to top five performance, the Texans are simply trying to field a competitive unit in 2021.

Based on Johnson’s NFL film, consider him a solid backup or challenger to Maliek Collins, Ross Blacklock, and/or whomever else wins one of the starting DT roles prior to Week One.