American Football

Browns release possible free agent target with ties to Brandon Staley


NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson totaled four interceptions in two seasons with the Browns.

In 2020, safety John Johnson III wore the green dot for the Rams defense under then-coordinator Brandon Staley. Over the next two seasons, Johnson has been a member of the Browns where he was a productive member of one of the top passing defenses during that span.

With the new league year beginning today, the Browns officially released both Johnson and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and it’s the former player’s ties to Staley that is creating murmurs that the two could reunite with the Chargers. After all, the team isn’t expected to re-sign safety Nasir Adderley and the depth behind Derwin James on the back end currently consists of Alohi Gilman, rookie JT Woods, Mark Webb, and 2022 undrafted free agent Raheem Layne.

While Johnson isn’t anywhere near a 1:1 swap to replace Adderley in terms of having a skillset that checks the boxes for a starting free safety in the NFL, he’s an experienced player within Staley’s defense who has four interceptions over the past two seasons playing under now-Chargers linebackers coach Jeff Howard. The idea would be to add an experienced player with plenty of goof football ahead of him and hope Tommy Donatell can whip JT Woods into shape in time for his sophomore campaign.

That seems much more easier than done but the Chargers don’t have much of an option at this point. With other needs topping the draft list, spending another early pick on another free safety just isn’t in the cards this offseason.

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