Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles
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PHILADELPHIA -- Spotting Fred Johnson in a crowd would have been tough once the Philadelphia Eagles started training camp in July. Amazing what five weeks can do for someone's future. 

Johnson was surprisingly cut from the Eagles last week after a strong training camp, having many wondering what went wrong in Philadelphia. The answer was nothing, just a procedure needed to get the offensive tackle out of his futures contract so he could sign a two-year extension. 

Johnson never was subject to waivers as a vested veteran, so Philadelphia was never in danger of losing him. A business decision allowed the Eagles to tear up his prior contract and give him a new one, the first multiyear extension ever brought to the table in Johnson's career. 

"After five years you start wondering, 'Am I just a journeyman? Am I just this and that?'" Johnson said after the preseason finale Thursday. "So when they said the extra year and you know put some numbers (guaranteed money) behind it, I was just like, 'What else are we waiting for?'"

The journey toward Johnson's extension in Philadelphia is one many NFL players experience. A undrafted free agent in 2019, Johnson has started eight games and played 28 for the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's been waived or released three times, the first time by the Pittsburgh Steelers after being a practice squad call-up to the game-day roster for five consecutive weeks. Once the Steelers waived Johnson, he was signed from their practice squad to the Bengals -- remaining there for three seasons before being waived again. 

The Buccaneers gave up on Johnson midway through last season and he ended up on the Eagles practice squad. Johnson questioned whether he still had a future in the NFL before Philadelphia took a chance on him. 

"Everywhere else I've been, you know I've been waived, I've been picked back up, I've been picked back up and waived -- all types of things," Johnson said. "I've been waived halfway through the season. It's only so much you can (take) before you start thinking, 'Damn, am I really worth it?'"

Philadelphia might have been Johnson's last chance to show he belonged in the league. After spending the remainder of 2022 with the Eagles, Johnson wanted to be with a franchise that actually played to his strengths. 

"What Stout (Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland) was teaching me was the stuff I needed for my body type," Johnson said. "He teaches his blockers to hone in what you've been gifted. All of that was on display for him to see."

Johnson questioned why the Eagles signed him while they were undefeated to start the year (Eagles were 8-0 when Johnson was brought in), but saw the potential of the move. The Eagles were what Johnson needed to salvage his career.

Now he's the backup left tackle with his best days ahead of him. Johnson is a lot easier to spot in that crowd. 

"When I came in here, I seen the opportunity and I took it," Johnson said. "Just to feel wanted. Just to feel that this can be a place for me, it just motivated me that much more to go hard and try to make this a home.

"They saw something they wanted to keep around."