7 players who face playing their last game for the LA Rams

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams John Johnson III
LA Rams John Johnson III /

DB Johnson III

The Rams would love to re-sign defensive back John Johnson III, but is it in the realm of possibilities? Yes. Will they do it? Well, the Rams have not invested heavily into safeties, and the team did draft heavily to ensure that they have young players in line for any absences in the back end of the defense. But the reality is that John Johnson III is one of the best safety/defensive backs in the NFL today.

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Johnson does it all, and does it well. Whether close to the line of scrimmage in run support, a deep center fielder to double up deep routes, coverage on tight ends, tackling, taking on blockers, he does everything very well. And his current price tag from his rookie contract of $2.3 million is insanely team-friendly. And that is why the Rams may not be able to re-sign Johnson.

One of the hottest free agents in 2021

Johnson won’t need to offer any discounts, as NFL teams and their fan bases would love to have him join their organization Johnson is both cerebral and passionate. He delivers on the football field, on the practice field, and in the meeting rooms. Johnson made the December 2020 list as one of the Top-50 2021 NFL Free Agent in a recent list compiled by Pro Football Focus.

If Johnson tests the free agency market, he will be hotly sought after. In social media, the San Francisco 49ers fan base makes no bones over their teams fit for hard hitting Johnson. The Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and Atlanta Falcons all need a star safety. And half a dozen other NFL teams may be in the market as well. If Johnson signs elsewhere, he could command a contract averaging up to $14 million a year. That could be enough to push the Rams into consideration for a third-round comp pick award in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Can’t replace Johnson’s leadership

The Rams cannot hope to replace Johnson. But the team will have J.R. Reed, Juju Hughes, Jordan Fuller, Terrell Burgess, Nick Scott, and Taylor Rapp to compete at the position next year. The Rams targeted safety with two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, and may look to draft there again in 2021. Of course, if the Rams re-sign Johnson, that will not be the case.  But the NFL had estimated the 2021 salary cap ceiling at the artificial $175 million.

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Only recently has there been any guesswork into revising that number upwards. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio indicated that the 2021 salary cap may be in the $195 million range.  Even so, the Rams are currently projected by Over The Cap analysts to be nearly at that amount now. The LA Rams are playing their last regular season game on January 3rd, 2021. If they cannot win this one, many players may be leaving this season with unmet goals, and facing the likelihood of playing for a new team in 2021.