How Does John Johnson III Fit Into Los Angeles Rams Secondary Rebuild?

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was announced on July 4th that the Los Angeles Rams have once again signed John Johnson. Johnson, who had been a free agent since March, has signed a new contract to return to the Rams. The details of the contract have yet to be released, but this is one of many moves the team has made to shore up the secondary.

Under new defensive coordinator, Chris Shula, the Rams have added five new defensive backs this offseason through the draft and free agency.

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Johnson was drafted by the Rams in 2017 in the 3rd round. After his rookie contract, he signed a three-year contract with the Cleveland Browns but was cut in March of 2023. The Rams then signed him to a one-year contract. He played in all 17 games, with eight starts.

Now back with the Rams the question is where he will fit in among the the newly acquired and the young drafted core.

John Johnson’s Fit in Los Angeles Rams Secondary

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Last season, Johnson didn’t play much until after the Bye Week. He took over for Russ Yeast at free safety, starting at the position for the remainder of the year. In his first stint with the Rams he played in the box almost as much as he played deep.

It will be interesting to see if they attempt to utilize him upfront. The Rams drifted away from stacked boxes, but the addition of Kamren Curl as a safety may be a sign that they will return to that style of defense. Curl played more snaps in the box than as a deep safety last year.

The Rams allowed their previous free safety, Jordan Fuller, to walk in free agency. Fuller played more than 93 percent of all defensive snaps last season. Fuller was drafted in essence to replace Johnson. And now it seems that Johnson is going to be used to fill, at least some of, Fuller’s playing time.

Both Curl and Yeast are more suited to play upfront, while John Johnson and Kamren Kinchens have more experience as deep safeties.

The biggest departure looks to be a move away from a versatile positionless defensive backfield. The Rams DBs will have essentially one role and they won’t deviate from that position. They will likely not utilize a STAR role as they have over the last few years.

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