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Browns Fill Gap In Secondary, Sign Safety John Johnson III

Going into the offseason, there were a couple of needs that the Browns needed to address. They needed to find a defensive line partner for Myles Garrett. The Browns also needed to fix a linebacking corps that was severely inconsistent last year. Finally, they badly needed to fix their secondary.

Cleveland’s secondary was the 26th-rated unit, according to PFF. On Monday, the Browns signed former Rams safety John Johnson III to a three-year, $33.75 million deal, with $24 million being guaranteed.

How Johnson III Helps the Browns Secondary

Johnson was a key cog in Brandon Staley’s Rams defense, acting as defensive signal caller this past year. He just turned 25 last December, and he had an interception and eight passes defended in 2020-21. The signature play for the safety from Boston College was when he picked off now-retired Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the 2018 NFC Championship.

He reportedly turned down significantly more money from other teams to sign with the Browns in NFL Free Agency. Johnson will join a safety group that now has a lot of promise going forward. Ronnie Harrison Jr. was traded to the Browns last year, and he eventually turned into a solid starter in the secondary.

On top of Harrison Jr., the Browns second-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, safety Grant Delpit, will be suiting up for his first year with the Browns, after he missed all of his rookie season with a torn Achilles. Delpit was the Jim Thorpe Award Winner in college football in 2019 while at LSU.

john johnson browns nfl free agency stats
Credit: Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

John Johnson III Career Stats

Tackles: 350 | Tackles For Loss: 8
QB Hits: 2 | Forced Fumbles: 1
Interceptions: 8 | Passes Defended: 32
Age: 25 | Games Played: 54

Grading the Signing

Clearly, the secondary was a big issue the Browns needed to fix going into next year. Signing John Johnson III for a relatively good price was a huge addition to the Browns defense, and the team as a whole. Cleveland now have two safeties in the secondary who are experienced and played very well in the 2020-21 season. They still need to find some defensive line help. On top of that, the Browns really need to find a good corner partner for All-Pro corner Denzel Ward. However, signing a playmaker like Johnson to improve the secondary is a giant step in the right direction.

Grade: A


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