Donedeal: Rams has signed a four-time star on a blockbuster deal

Donedeal: Rams has signed a four-time star on a blockbuster deal

 

John Johnson - Football - FHSU Athletics

Is it a coincidence that John Johnson found a team before Justin Simmons, or does this mean something negative for safeties?

Fans and media of the Los Angeles Rams have been speculating for months about whether the team could sign four-time second-team All-Pro Justin Simmons to significantly improve a need. Before welcoming back John Johnson for the third time on Thursday, the Rams were scheduled to start training camp with rookie third-round pick Kamren Kinchens, free agent acquisition Kamren Curl, and returnee Russ Yeast at safety.

Johnson getting the chance to play in his seventh NFL season would seem to be wonderful news for other safety, but it couldn’t be further from the reality.

The fact of the matter is that L.A. does not appear to feel that there is a noticeable difference in value between a player who could only start half of the Rams games in 2023 and only out of desperation and a perennial top safety in the league who went to the Pro Bowl last season. This is similar to what I wrote in May when Simmons was released and declared that safeties are the new running backs. That isn’t a negative assessment of Johnson because, well, it’s not an opinion at all. That’s precisely what took place.

Browns to release S John Johnson III

Justin Simmons, 30, a safety in the Pro Bowl in 2023, is getting closer every day to signing a veteran minimum contract.

Not much less expensive than Simmons, John Johnson was brought to the Rams roster last year after training camp had already begun since he was cut by the Browns and was unable to find a team immediately.

Why did Johnson get a higher score than Simmons?
It’s true that the Rams know Johnson better than Simmons, and that is undoubtedly to their advantage.

However, Derion Kendrick is also more known to the Rams than Tre’Davious White was last season. Had they signed White instead of just starting Kendrick? No, Les Snead signed Darious Williams and White because he wanted to improve at cornerback. The Rams traded for Steve Avila and signed Jonah Jackson in order to acquire a better center and guard. Although Coleman Shelton was more well-known to them than Jackson, there was no thought given to not upgrading.

So why wouldn’t the Rams find Justin Simmons more appealing than Johnson given that he has never been available at a lesser price?

Maybe as a result of the rarity of safeties in this scheme that are significantly more or less valued than the median options. Among all of them—Johnson, Simmons, Tyrann Mathieu, Kevin Byard, Jimmie Ward, and so forth—it’s possible that none of them is all that much more valuable than the others. Maybe there aren’t any standout safeties left unless your name is Kyle Hamilton, Derwin James, or Antoine Winfield. Heck, James might even be a reach at this stage of his career.

John Johnson Stats, News and Video - S | NFL.com

Even if you have every right to ask me to mention names like Budda Baker, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Jessie Bates, keep in mind that Justin Simmons is the player who is still unemployed.

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