Johnson feeling good as he enters late career push

Lane Johnson this offseason got a nice little pay bump in the form of an extension that will keep him under contract with the Eagles through the 2026 season.

He’ll be nearly 37 years old by then.

So it seems very possible, likely even, that this will be Johnson’s final contract in the NFL.

“Yeah, hopefully,” Johnson said with a smile on Tuesday. “Thirty-seven, that would be pretty old. Then again, [Jason Peters] is 41, so always chasing (him). I’m super fortunate to be where I’m at.”

For now, Johnson is 33 and entering his 11th season in the NFL. The No. 4 overall pick from the 2013 draft has had a long and successful NFL career in Philadelphia and he’s somehow still getting better.

In 2022, Johnson played as well as he ever has. He made his second All-Pro team and was a brick wall for the Eagles during their playoff run despite a torn adductor that needed surgery. He again didn’t allow a sack all season; he hasn’t given one up since 2020, according to ProFootballFocus.

After the Eagles’ loss in Super Bowl LVII, Johnson finally had surgery to repair that torn adductor. His surgery was performed by Dr. William Meyers, who leads the field in core muscle injuries. Johnson has already been back at OTAs this spring.

“I’ve been cleared for a little bit now,” Johnson said. “First couple weeks were rough. After that, it’s one of those rehabs where you have to progress pretty fast because they didn’t want you to heal up stiff. I feel like this was a lot easier than the ankle (rehab) I had a few years ago. Feeling good, moving good. Happy about where I’m at.”

That ankle injury Johnson spoke about, one he suffered back in 2018, really hampered him for a few seasons. One specific area that suffered, Johnson said, was in the run game. Johnson wants his run blocking to get back to where it was earlier in his career. No reason to think it won’t.

Coming out of Oklahoma over a decade ago, Johnson was a freaky athletic specimen.

At 33, he recognizes that he might not be the same exact physical freak. But his experience can take over.

“A lot of my game now is trying to be a smarter player,” Johnson said. “Whatever you may have in diminished attributes, you can make up with timing and that sort of thing. I’m happy where I’m at — 33 is old but I still feel like I got a few good years left.”

Through the first 10 years of his career, Johnson has been a Pro Bowler four times and an All-Pro twice. He’s been a Hall of Fame caliber player but his accolades haven’t necessarily matched.

Johnson has dealt with several injuries throughout his time in the NFL and lost 14 combined games earlier in his career from two separate suspensions for violations of the PED policy.

And then there’s what he called the “right tackle-left tackle dilemma.” The way the NFL used to work was that all the best tackles played on the left side of the line to protect the quarterback’s blindside. But in recent years we’ve seen that gap bridged.

There’s no longer a stigma about playing on the right side of the line and players like Johnson are a big reason for the mindset shift. He’s faced and shut down countless Pro Bowl pass rushers in recent years. All that is probably why Jason Kelce recently on Chris Long’s Green Light podcast named Johnson as an under appreciated player.

“I feel like maybe last year I got put on the map a little bit,” Johnson said. “But like I said, when I came in the right tackle-left tackle dilemma was a lot bigger gap than what it is now. Closing that out was probably a bit thing and it took some years to do.”

If Johnson plays four more years at the same level he played in 2022, he has a legitimate shot to become a Hall of Famer. There’s no questioning his talent level and if the accolades start to stack up, he’s going to put together a really intriguing case. But that’s not what he’s thinking about as he enters the final stage of his career.

Johnson last season was voted by his teammates as one of the Eagles’ captains and it’s clear that he takes his leadership role seriously. Johnson on Tuesday spoke about wanting to help develop younger players the offensive line room.

What does he want his legacy to be?

“I don’t know,” Johnson said. “Just a guy that loved his teammates and loved the City of Philadelphia, loved playing. Just a guy that grinded hard and just tried to be a good example on the field and help guys off the field. So just be a good human off the field.”

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