Instant Reaction: Grading the Juan Thornhill free agent signing

On the same day the team officially announced they will part ways with John Johnson III, the Cleveland Browns signed his replacement in safety Juan Thornhill to a three-year deal for $21 million. The difference is that JJ3 is not a true free safety and that Thornhill is which is something this team has sorely needed for the past three seasons.

Thornhill has spent his entire four-year career in Kansas City where he helped the team win two Super Bowls as one of the better coverage safeties in the NFL. The Browns continue to have a good week of free agency as they fill major holes and needs before the draft in April giving them more flexibility.

The production

The Browns have finally found their true centerfielder that excels in coverage that can prevent the big plays that have haunted them for years. In Thornhill’s four-year career, he has only allowed 12 touchdowns including just one in 2021. PFF charted Thornhill with five pass breakups last year to go along with his three interceptions and just an 83.7 passer rating in 2022.

The secondary, and defensive as a whole, struggled missing tackles last year while Thornhill never had more than two missed tackles in any game and only 10 all season. Thornhill was ranked third amongst safeties according to PFF in forced incompletion percentage at 20 percent.

Production Grade: B

The financials

As he has since arriving in Cleveland, Andrew Berry continues to let the market come to him and not overpay for players. Another team-friendly deal at 21 million total over three years with 14 million guaranteed.

Instead of spending more than double that on a player like Jessie Bates the Browns made sure to match the value of the contract with the talent of the player. If there is one thing Berry excels at it’s his contract structure and not overpaying for free agents.

Financials Grade: A

The fit

Just like the Dalvin Tomlinson signing this is a perfect fit for what the Browns need. They have corners that can play man coverage but lacked someone over the top to prevent the explosive plays and help out the corners which they now have with Thornhill. The team could not go into another season with no true free safety and just box safeties like Grant Delpit.

Having Thornhill able to roam deep allows Jim Schwartz to move Delpit around and play to his strengths knowing there is a safety blanket deep over the top. Matching value and need to land Thornhill who fits right into what the team was missing last season.

Fit Grade: A-

The overall grade

It continues to be a good week for the Browns as they match another need with a cost-effective player they did not overpay to get. The freedom having a true deep safety will give Jim Schwartz is huge and Thornhill gives the team that. He has the experience and track record of production to go along with playoff experience being a part of two Super Bowl wins.

Overall it’s a really good move short of great but matches a good player at a position of need without breaking the bank. This is a move that makes players around him better as well an all in all quality signing.

Overall Grade: A-

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Story originally appeared on Browns Wire