7 key players LA Rams could lose to Lions or Chargers via FA
By Bret Stuter
From the moment that defensive coordinator Brandon Staley arrived at the LA Rams, he focused on two players in the secondary as keys to his coverage. The first was Jalen Ramsey, who Staley envisioned as a defensive back who could be used in a variety of ways to thwart offenses from making easy completions to their receivers.
The second was safety John Johnson III, whose command of the defense from the safety position was so advanced, that Staley empowered him to call the coverages for the defensive secondary. Johnson will no doubt appear on the NFL Free Agency shopping list for 12-15 NFL teams. He is a complete football player, the guy who can step into the box to shut down the run, into the slot to cover the receiver or sit back in center field to take away the deep pass.
Johnson is so good that he makes it look easy. He is the wiley veteran who does so many difficult tasks in the secondary well that he enables his teammates to shine by focusing on what they do best. He is a strong leader for the team, both in his disciplined approach, but also with his passionate play. He has earned the players’ respect not only from his teammates but from players all over the NFL.
Both Staley and Pleasant will lobby hard to bring John Johnson III to their team. But they’ll have some competition to do so. Some projections estimate that Johnson will sign a multi-year deal for about $8 million per season. That just seems low to me. In fact, it could be about $1-2 million low, depending upon the contract Jamal Adams signs with the Seattle Seahawks. After all, if there is a bidding war for Johnson, he’ll get paid handsomely.
If the Rams are not bidding for Johnson’s services in 2021, the more he gets paid, the better the chances of a valuable compensatory pick being awarded to the Rams for the 2022 NFL Draft. All told, the outlook for the Rams to retain their key players is not very promising. With two former coaches on new teams with plenty of cap space, the Rams will most assuredly face bidding wars for nearly all defenders who will hit the NFL Free Agency market.