Thoughts of the Rams Re-Adding Ex-Defensive Captain Resurfaces

Kyler Murray John Johnson III

Getty John Johnson III chases Kyler Murray on December 6, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona.

John Johnson III was once lauded for his safety play and leadership intangibles during his run with the Los Angeles Rams.

Could a reunion now take shape with the former captain on his way out of Cleveland?

Per Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network on the morning of Tuesday, February 28, the Browns are planning to part ways with the veteran safety.

“The Browns will release S John Johnson III at the start of the league year on March 15, barring a trade, sources say. Johnson was entering the final year of a three-year contract he signed as a free agent in 2021. Still young at 27, he’ll have interest once free,” Garafolo reported.

With his pending departure, thoughts of seeing him in a Rams uniform have resurfaced.

Johnson Was Greatly Missed in the ‘Rams House’

Johnson was once signed to a three-year, $33.75 million deal with the Browns. His contract originally was going to make him an unrestricted free agent for the 2024 offseason.

But now, the opportunity to re-add Johnson to the “Rams House” just increased for the following reasons:

One Ex-Brown returned once: As Ram fans saw last season, Troy Hill drifted to the Browns only to be traded back to the Rams in the 2022 offseason. The nickelback Hill is still an unrestricted free agent for 2023, but keeping him reunites him with Johnson should the Rams pursue.

Safety room facing depth concerns: While Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott were steady tacklers for the Rams (Scott delivered career-best numbers), both are facing the possibility of not returning in 2023 as free agents. The team already released Terrell Burgess during the season and have Jordan Fuller set to be healthy for the upcoming season. But there’s not much depth after Fuller.

Steady ball-hawking presence needed on backend: Though not a household name in the Rams defense, Johnson was a steady and reliable presence especially during the team’s NFC title run of the 2018 season. Johnson also showed his ball skills with the Rams by snatching eight interceptions and breaking up 32 passes across his four seasons. The Rams only got two interceptions from both Rapp and Scott from the safety crew last season. In the Sean McVay era, Rapp and Johnson are the only safeties to deliver four interceptions in a single season.

Now comes this, how would others feel about seeing Johnson back?

What Others Say About Possibility of Johnson’s Return

Skyler Carlin of Rams Wire on USA Today was one who dove into the possibility of seeing Johnson back.

Carlin believes that the former Ram could see a decent market for himself given the combination of age and production. But a return to the “Rams House,” Carlin says, is dependent upon if Johnson is seeking a multi-year deal with guaranteed money or a “prove it” one-year deal that could pave the way for an even richer deal before the age of 30.

“If Johnson’s contract desires are somewhere within the same range as Rapp or Scott, then the Rams should undoubtedly consider bringing back the talented safety,” Carlin wrote.

However, “That seems unlikely with Johnson expected to drum up interest for safety-needy teams this offseason, though.” He added that the Rams have had a history of not paying safeties a blockbuster deal.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Arthur of SB Nation wrote how reuniting Johnson on the Rams would give him the “green dot,” meaning he can relay the defensive signals once again. Fuller held that role in Johnson’s absence.

Again, if Johnson returns, he joins Hill in going from a brief run in Cleveland to returning to L.A. And with uncertainty in the safety room, the time never felt greater for a possible return.

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