Although the move happened a couple of days ago by now, and is actually probably the biggest move made in the division so far, it’s hard to get to every bit of news when you typically only focus on one story per day.
On the first day of the tampering period, the Cleveland Browns made a big move to bolster their secondary by agreeing to a contract with unrestricted free agent safety John Johnson III, who will be a major upgrade for a secondary that was an ad hoc creation for most of last season.
A former third-round pick, Johnson has spent his first four seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Rams, during which time he has developed into one of the most respected young safeties in the league, even if he has thus far gone without recognition through Pro Bowl and All-Pro nominations.
Over the course of his four years with the Rams, he has registered 350 total tackles, including eight for loss, while registering eight interceptions and 32 passes defensed. He missed most of the 2019 season, but played all 16 games last year and compiled 105 tackles with one interception and eight passes defensed.
Last season, the Browns built a secondary consisting of free agent safeties, having signed Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo as unrestricted free agents. They later added Ronnie Harrison in-season, but none of them are players you would regard as ascending talents.
Cleveland was high on a rookie last year by the name of Grant Delpit, who was expected to be in the starting lineup after being drafted 44th overall out of LSU last year, but he missed the entirety of his rookie season due to injury.
With the combination of also getting starting cornerback Greedy Williams back from injury, their secondary will look quite different next season, including a new starting safety duo that has yet to play a snap for the Browns. They could still bring back Kevin Johnson, another free agent signing last year, to return to play in the slot.
The Browns have done a lot of work over the course of the past three years to turn around their offense, and we really saw that bear fruit last year. There was still work to be done on the defense, especially the secondary.
Perhaps the addition of Johnson and the return of two players who were projected to be starters will help Cleveland keep things going after finding their first taste of success in more than a decade. Hopefully not, you know, as Steelers fans, but we still have to play them twice, and know your enemy and all that.