1. John Johnson III, S
When the Browns signed John Johnson III ahead of the 2021 season, it appeared as though they made a huge move. A former third-round pick from Boston College, he developed into a quality starter for the Los Angeles Rams, and for the second year in a row, general manager Andrew Berry landed a big fish in free agency.
First, it was Austin Hooper, the former Atlanta Falcons teammate. Unfortunately, Hooper never fit in the offense and was released after just two seasons. While Johnson played well in his first campaign with the team, there’s a real chance he will join Hooper as the second big-name free agent to be cut after just two years.
Johnson took a step back in 2022, but in his defense, so did the entire defense. The problem for Johnson, however, is that he was seen as the veteran leader of the defense. But instead of taking ownership, he was one of the players pointing fingers and even called out his teammates saying they needed to show more effort and commitment.
Then the following weekend, he was seen giving up on a play and refusing to tackle Gus Edwards in a loss to the Ravens.
Right now, Johnson is seventh on the team with a cap hit of $13.5 million in 2023. Should they make him a post-June 1 release, they would be able to save $9.75 million of that money.
There’s still a chance Jim Schwartz will want to keep Johnson in his defense but right now, it appears they would be best served to move on and spend that money elsewhere.