Bills sign DTs DeShawn Williams, Austin Johnson

By Thomson Reuters Mar 28, 2024 | 12:53 PM

The Buffalo Bills added to their depth on the defensive front on Thursday with the signings of tackles DeShawn Williams and Austin Johnson to one-year contracts.

Contract terms were not disclosed.

The Bills needed defensive tackles behind starters Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones after losing reserves Poona Ford, Linval Joseph and Tim Settle to free agency, and Jordan Phillips considering retirement.

Williams, 31, completed his lone season for the Carolina Panthers in 2023, starting 10 of the 16 games he played and totaling 33 tackles, one sack and seven quarterback hits.

An undrafted free agent out of Clemson, Williams played four games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2016 before spending the next three seasons with the Denver Broncos. He has career totals of 148 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 30 QB hits, nine passes defensed and one interception in 66 games (44 starts).

Johnson, 29, played the past two seasons for the Los Angeles Chargers, starting all 17 games in 2023 and totaling 46 tackles, including two tackles for loss.

The Tennessee Titans selected him in the second round (43rd overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Penn State, where he was Jones’ teammate.

Johnson played for the Titans (2016-19), New York Giants (2020-21) and Chargers, totaling 241 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks, 17 QB hits and 10 passes defensed in 116 games (55 starts).

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Johnson could improve much like Jones did in his first season with the team in 2022.

“I think even DaQuan, you’ve seen in our system improve his pass rush, and we do think Austin can kind of follow that same trajectory,” Beane said. “Brought him in for a visit. Great young man. You know, he talked about the importance of a winning culture, winning team, and obviously DaQuan was helping sell, you know, our situation.”

–Field Level Media