The Eagles’ All-Pro right tackle played in the big game while fighting through a torn adductor muscle in his groin. Had the Eagles found a way to top the Kansas City Chiefs instead of coming up just short, Johnson’s short-term future wasn’t changing. He was going under the knife of Dr. William Meyers, the Philadelphia-based surgeon who has become the guy in professional sports when it comes to core muscle injuries.
A week after the Super Bowl Johnson, 33, went from stymying Chiefs’ pass-rushers to fighting through the uphill battle of a half-mile walk once Meyers finished his handiwork.
“The last thing they want you to do is get surgery and not move and kind of heal up stiff,” Johnson said last week. “That’s the worst fear, healing up stiff. When you do that, there might be a lot of scar tissue broken up later, so I think the more progressive you are early in the rehab, the less stuff you have to deal with in the latter half of it.”
The early struggles quickly lifted and Johnson was able to get medically cleared to participate in the Eagles’ OTAs this spring.
Comparatively, Johnson’s latest medical bump in the road could have been far worse.
“I felt like this was a lot easier than the ankle that I had a few years ago,” Johnson admitted. “I’m feeling good, [I’m] moving good.”
The ankle issue Johnson spoke of went on for multiple years with the veteran trying the stop-gap of tightrope surgery before ultimately defaulting to reconstructive surgery on the deltoid ligament that has held up far better.
Johnson continues to play at such a high level that the Eagles tacked on another year to his existing contract.
“It wasn’t too long of a process,” Johnson said of the tweak. “A few weeks. Obviously we had to get some stuff worked out to get it done, but it’s a good situation for both, lowering the cap room and I got a little bit more money. At the end of the day, that’s why I think [the Eagles are] so good — we know how to work the numbers and get players and maneuver the cap room.”
Johnson expects this to be his last contract and noted late last season he felt like he had two more years in him, which would take him through the 2024 season. He continues to perform at such a high level, though, that thinking could change. He has allowed only one pressure in his last two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. Unbelievable production that has many calling Johnson the best player in Philadelphia and perhaps the best offensive lineman in the NFL.
If Johnson plays through the entire contract, he would be 37.
“Thirty-seven would be pretty old,” Johnson laughed before bringing up his one-time mentor Jason Peters. “Then again, JP is 41.”
Johnson already admits he’s not where he once was physically as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 draft but experience has more than made up for that.
“A lot of my game is now being a smarter player,” Johnson admitted. “Whatever diminished attributes, you can make up with timing and that sort of thing. I’m happy with where I’m at. Thirty-three is old, but I still feel I have a few good years left.”