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After four years out of football, A.J. Johnson cleared of rape and with the Broncos

Tennessee v Oklahoma

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 13: Linebacker A.J. Johnson #45 of the Tennessee Volunteers warms up before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners September 13, 2014 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Volunteers 34-10. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

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The news that the Broncos signed linebacker A.J. Johnson today came nearly four years after he last played an NFL game. Johnson was kicked off the team at Tennessee during the 2014 season after he was accused of rape, and hasn’t played since.

But Johnson was acquitted last month of rape, and Broncos G.M. John Elway said the team believes in his character.

“A.J. hasn’t had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter. We’ve had several conversations with him since he’s been cleared and have become very familiar with his background and character,” Elway said. “Our organization is confident A.J. is ready to move forward and resume his playing career.”

According to Mike Klis of 9 News in Denver, several NFL teams wanted Johnson. He was an excellent linebacker at Tennessee who considered entering the 2014 NFL draft before deciding to return to Tennessee for his senior season. After four years out of football and with the preseason already underway, he seems unlikely to make the Broncos’ roster. But Johnson seems like a good candidate to make the practice squad as he attempts to re-start his football career.