3 Cleveland Browns that must be cut in the offseason

Cleveland Browns, John Johnson III. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns, John Johnson III. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns, John Johnson III. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

John Johnson III, Safety

2023 Salary: $13.5 million

Post-June 1 Savings: $9.75 million
Dead Money: $3.75 million

When the Cleveland Browns signed John Johnson III ahead of the 2021 season, it felt as though they got a huge steal. Despite being one of the hottest names on the market, he signed a team-friendly three-year deal worth $33.75 million.

After two years, there are now questions about whether or not he’s really worth the money he’s been getting paid. To be fair, Johnson hasn’t been utilized to the best of his ability. He’s better in a strong safety role, but the same goes for Grant Delpit and Ronnie Harrison. That means despite playing three safeties often, one of them is usually trying to play a centerfield role which isn’t their specialty.

Even so, when a team pays someone $11 million, they’re expected to perform at a high level and they should be somewhat versatile. That hasn’t been the case with Johnson, who is the 61st-ranked safety according to PFF. He was in the low 30s the prior year and has had a huge drop off this year, which is beyond discouraging.

To his credit, Johnson has tried to be a leader on the defensive side of the ball, saying there needs to be more “dedication” during the days leading up to the games. The problem is, he was then seen avoiding contact the very next week, which may not have sat well with the teammates he was trying to encourage.

Even without that going on, it’s hard to pay nearly $10 million on a safety when the secondary is still a problem. It might be better to add an affordable veteran or even a mid-round rookie. At worst, they will likely keep the defense similar to what we have seen in 2022. At best, they could surprise and help them improve.