Rams safety John Johnson is probably the most valuable player on the team to hit free agency and he’s also playing the position that the franchise has arguably worked the hardest in the draft over the last two years to find depth in. Like these decisions or not, Les Snead drafted Taylor Rapp with the team’s first pick in the 2019 draft, then selected Nick Scott in round seven.
Taking a safety that late in the draft may not signal that a team was hoping to find a future starter, but that sure seems less true of a team that is almost certain to be starting Jordan Fuller in 2021.
On top of those two picks in 2019 and the sixth round selection of Fuller in 2020, the Rams also opted to take Terrell Burgess in the third round when many perceived “needs” with higher priority than safety were available. And though Burgess didn’t earn a significant role on the defense until the Week 7 game in which he was injured. he may have impressed enough in camp to give coaches confidence that between their three recent draft picks that they could find two competent starters.
The question to ask about in regards to John Johnson’s safety is not “What will the Rams be losing in Johnson?” but “What will the Rams be losing in Johnson, in relation to what they will be gaining in his replacement?”
LA won’t be forgoing a starting free safety next season. They’ll be replacing with him somebody and while it is entirely possible that Burgess or Rapp or Scott or (other) would be a downgrade to Johnson, will it be a downgrade worth paying $11 or $12 or $13 million for? The decision to re-sign Johnson would not only be a decision to retain Johnson, but also a decision to not spend $13 million per year on a wide receiver or a linebacker or potentially even money that could go towards a change at quarterback. Or a combination of these positions.
Signing Johnson is the same as not signing somebody else, and it undermines Snead’s last two draft classes.
But also, John Johnson is good and he has been one of the leaders of the defense. It’s not an easy decision.
Should the Rams go all out to re-sign John Johnson? (Anybody who says "At the right price" is making too obvious of a statement. Take a chance or don’t take a chance.)
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