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Free Agency

5 things to know about new Browns S John Johnson III

Johnson impressed as a playmaker and leader in four seasons in Los Angeles. Now, he’s coming to Cleveland

Safety John Johnson III, one of the top secondary players who became available in the free-agent market, has agreed to terms on a deal with the Browns.

Here are five things to know about Cleveland's big addition to the secondary.

1. Johnson, a 2017 third-round pick, comes to Cleveland after four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, where he recorded eight interceptions and 32 pass breakups and played in all 16 games in three of those four seasons. Johnson snagged one interception and eight passes defensed last year while totaling a team-high 105 tackles. He was the top player for a secondary that allowed just four passes for more than 40 yards during the regular season and helped lead Los Angeles to the NFC Divisional round.

2. The Rams loved Johnson as both a player and leader. His biggest play came in 2018, when he intercepted Saints quarterback Drew Brees in overtime of the NFC Conference Championship to set up the game-winning field-goal that sent the Rams to the Super Bowl. He was also voted as a team captain, named the defensive signal-caller and nominated as the Rams' 2020 selection for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Johnson left a sizable footprint — both on the field and around the community — in Los Angeles and now has an opportunity to make another in Cleveland.

3. Before he was drafted, Johnson began to rise up draft boards in his final two seasons at Boston College. He snagged three interceptions in each of his last two college seasons and recorded nine pass breakups his senior year, but he was still projected to go as a mid-round pick in a safety class that included Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, Jabrill Peppers, Eddie Jackson, Marcus Williams and Budda Baker — the 2017 safety class was stacked, and Johnson has still managed to become one of its top players.

4. Johnson didn't take long to not only adjust to the NFL, but also become one of the top secondary players in the league. He recorded 75 tackles and finished second on the team with 11 pass breakups in 2017, which foreshadowed a massive 2018 when he totaled four interceptions, 11 pass breakups and 119 tackles. Johnson excels in pass coverage, but he's also a dependable run-stuffer and tackler. Former Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib once told Lindsey Thiry from ESPN that Johnson was "one of the best tackling guys that I've played with, period."

5. Johnson was on pace for a career-year in 2019 when he intercepted two passes in the first three games, but a shoulder injury in Week 6 sidelined him for the rest of the season. He shut down any concerns about his health in 2020, however, when he was named the signal-caller for the NFL's top defense and became one of four NFL safeties to play 100 percent of his team's defensive snaps. Johnson was given an 85.3 grade from Pro Football Focus and ranked third among all safeties.

Check out photos of safety John Johnson III

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