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It’s a three-year deal worth $33.75 million total and $24 million in guarantees, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.
Browns fans, this is one to cheer about!
Johnson is a fantastic upgrade to the secondary. The Rams third-round pick in 2017 has consistently proven himself as one of the top coverage safeties in the entire NFL throughout his career. He’s smart, instinctive, quick to react and has good chase-down and closing speed to the ball.
Here’s what Pro Football Focus said of Johnson in its free agency preview, where Johnson ranked 24th overall,
Johnson has fallen off the free-agent radar a bit after an injury-plagued 2019 season, but make no mistake, he’s an elite safety when healthy. His greatest contribution is also the most important one, as he’s a truly dominant cover safety when called upon. His 85.6 coverage grade ranked fourth among safeties during the regular season, marking the third time in four seasons he was at or above 84.9.
By way of comparison, Karl Joseph scored a 49.1 in coverage for the Browns last year at safety, while Andrew Sendejo notched a 41.6. Johnson should slide right into the Sendejo role of high coverage safety and roaming the center of the field.
Oh yeah, Johnson can tackle, too. He topped 100 total tackles in both 2018 and 2020. The 25-year-old has eight career INTs and 39 passes defended in 54 total games.
He’s very active and rangy, though he will occasionally be late to recognize a draw play or delayed run. The only other real critique of his game is that Johnson isn’t great in the box or near the line of scrimmage. He’s a lot better attacking the perimeter run than closing in to stuff an inside carry, and he will flit around blocks in traffic in the box. In coverage, he’s better playing centerfield than he is coming up into the slot and matching up in man coverage with a tight end, though he’s also better than average at that, too.
Johnson missed 10 games with a shoulder injury in 2019 but showed no ill effects in playing all 1,024 defensive snaps for the Rams last season. The injury appears to be a one-time thing and not something to worry about.
Of course he also has playoff experience. Johnson’s Rams made the postseason in three of his four years with the team, including the Super Bowl following the 2018 campaign.
The price seems right for the Browns, who had plenty of cap room to work with. Johnson is an instant upgrade at the team’s biggest need on defense–speed and coverage in the middle of the field.