5 veteran outbound free agents who the LA Rams will miss in 2021
The unchallenged leader of the LA Rams defense in 2020 was defensive back John Johnson III. Despite playing in the fourth year of his rookie contract, Johnson has quickly grown into one of the smartest defensive back in the NFL. But smarts mean nothing if the player cannot translate that understanding into performance. Johnson never had a problem in that translation.
John Johnson was marked almost instantly by the Rams’ new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to call his complex coverages on the field. And despite never having played in Staley’s defense, he was spot on. In fact, he was so incredibly effective at calling the coverages that I expected him to prioritize Johnson in free agency as soon as the LA Rams failed to apply the franchise tag on him.
Johnson was also very active in the Rams defense in 2020, as his 105 tackles nearly matched his career-high. He was also very effective in pass coverage, allowing less than 70 percent of passes targeting him to be completed. He was not only on the field for 100 percent of the defensive snaps, but he was also very active on special teams as well.
You can never replace someone like John Johnson. You can only put the best 11 defenders onto the field, reassign his responsibilities, and hope for the best. John Johnson III was a true leader of the defense. In the end, that leadership will be the most missed quality in 2021.