He’s back: Free-agent safety John Johnson signs with Rams

Rams safety John Johnson holds a football and looks up while opponents stand behind him on the field.
Rams safety John Johnson celebrates after picking off Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield during a game in September 2019. After spending two seasons in Cleveland, Johnson is back with the Rams.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams added veteran depth to their secondary Monday by signing safety John Johnson, a key player in their run to their first Super Bowl appearance under coach Sean McVay five years ago.

Johnson, 27, has been a free agent since the Cleveland Browns released him in March.

Johnson is scheduled to take a physical Monday in Thousand Oaks. If he passes, he’s expected to rejoin the team for their final training camp practice Tuesday morning in Irvine, said a person not authorized to speak about the transaction publicly.

Johnson was expected to receive a contract for the veteran minimum, about $1.08 million. The Rams previously signed free-agent receivers Demarcus Robinson and Tyler Johnson and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to similar deals.


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Aug. 5, 2023

Johnson’s signing is not a surprise. He attended practice Sunday at UC Irvine, where he spoke on the sideline with Rams general manager Les Snead and vice president Tony Pastoors. Johnson also signed autographs for fans, clearly enjoying his return to a familiar environment.

Johnson, a third-round draft pick by the Rams in 2017, will forever be remembered for his interception in overtime in the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 playoffs. The play set up a game-winning field goal that sent the Rams to Super Bowl LIII.

In March 2021, the Browns signed Johnson to a three-year contract that included $24 million in guarantees. Johnson intercepted four passes in two seasons with the Browns.

During his first stint with the Rams, Johnson played three seasons under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and one under Brandon Staley.

Now Johnson will work under Raheem Morris in a position group that includes fourth-year pro Jordan Fuller and second-year pros Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake.

Johnson and Fuller were teammates in 2020, Fuller’s rookie season.