The second option is the one I favor but is also less than likely to happen. In this option, the LA Rams find the cash to extend Johnson for multiple years. Let’s face it, he is most definitely a strong fit in the new defense drawn up by defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. In this defense, Johnson is responsible for setting the pass coverage.
While the LA Rams may not be lauded for their defense, trust me in saying it’s there. The LA Rams allow 6.5 yards per pass attempt, good enough for the 2nd-ranked defense in the NFL. Passing yards-per-game at 209.5 is good enough for the 4th-ranked defense in the NFL. The Rams have allowed eight passing touchdowns, good enough for the 8th-ranked defense in the NFL. The only “middle-of-the-pack” pass defense statistics are the completion percentage against them, 65 percent, and total interceptions of four.
Worth the money, but what’s left to spend?
That doesn’t just happen with a new scheme. Johnson had almost no time to learn new defensive schemes on the field so well that he is the one calling them out on defense. Staley has to love the command of his strategy by the Rams veteran safety. Johnson certainly loves what the Rams are doing on defense. So far, it shows.
But to keep Johnson, the Rams must overcome a serious salary cap shortfall for 2021. Right now, the Rams are carrying a $7 million surplus for 2020 but will lose it all to a $26 million deficit based on the NFL’s $175 million cap floor. To keep a player of Johnson’s quality, the Rams will need to offer a contract with a minimum of three years at a range of $24-29 million. Johnson is worth it. But the Rams may not have enough spendable cap to dedicate to Johnson. So, we may be looking at John Johnson III drifting away via the NFL Free Agency market in 2021.