Reason I: Johnson delivers the ideal blend of run/pass defense that the Rams need from their safety
The confusion over the LA Rams allowing John Johnson III to test his FMV (fair market value) in the NFL Free Agency market was the simple fact that he was such an ideally suited safety for what the LA Rams defense needs from that position.
The best aspect of John Johnson III is simply that he has performed so well in the Rams defense at any and every task his role has required. In terms of pass defense? The guy is incredible. He has 12 interceptions in six NFL seasons. But picking off passes is just the tip of the iceberg. He only allows 60 percent of the passes targeting his receiver to find their mark. And in the past two seasons, that success rate has fallen to 57.4 percent of the passes.
Now compare that to Taylor Rapp, who continues to allow well over 70 percent of the passes to his receiver to find their mark. The same can be said for Nick Scott, who also struggled to defend the pass in 2020. That is a huge problem for the 2023 LA Rams defense and could be solved by signing JJIII.
Let's be clear though. Just as trading for veteran DB Troy Hill did not solve the Rams secondary woes due to his injury and the lack of continuity among the entire secondary, simply signing John Johnson III to the roster is not a transaction that by itself fixes anything. But combining the addition of Johnson with the hiring of two elite secondary coaches give the Rams defense a true path for success.
Break the bank on signing Johnson? I would advise against it. Johnson was due to make $13.5 million in 2023, a salary that the Browns do not want to pay. He averaged $5.5 million in his first two seasons, and that feels like a fair estimation of his worth for a year in 2023. If the Rams can sign him for a one or two year deal that is no greater than $6 million per season then I believe that the Rams must do so.
Why would JJIII want to re-sign with the Rams? He needs to rebuild his reputation as an elite defensive back and restore his production to attract interest from NFL teams again. Right now, there is no better team to do exactly that than the Rams' defense. A win-win? Exactly that. And if JJIII signs elsewhere afterward, that only adds value as it could qualify for the Rams to be awarded another compensatory NFL Draft pick.