Ineligible Man Downfield: How the Browns can take advantage of the Stafford-Goff trade

It's all about the money, folks.

Remember the name John Johnson

The Browns need safety help.

It’s doubtful either of Andrew Sendejo or Karl Joseph will be back, as their one-year deals are set to expire. Sheldrick Redwine is a below average player. Grant Delpit will be back, but the Browns still don’t know what they have in their young safety who will be attempting another shot at his rookie season after he tore his Achilles. Andrew Berry sprung for Ronnie Harrison in a preseason trade with the Jaguars, and Harrison should be a long-term starter at the strong safety spot (and can play some free when needed), but outside of that, the Browns don’t have a sure thing on the back end.

ESPN’s Mina Kimes brought up an interesting name on Twitter on Sunday in light of the trade that is bringing Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles. The Rams are way over the cap, with little ability to re-sign some of their outgoing free agents. One of those free agents is John Johnson, an uber-talented safety who’s just 25 years old. Johnson earned an 85.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus this season and was part of a vicious Rams secondary that was one of the best in the NFL.

The Rams could franchise Johnson, but with their financial situation that seems unlikely. Johnson will probably demand top-ish safety money (SB Nation’s Turf Show Times estimates he’ll want a deal in the $14 million a year range), but the Browns have plenty of cash to spend as they rolled over $30 million in cap space from the 2020 season, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

Pairing Johnson with Harrison and Delpit would give the Browns a formidable safety rotation for Joe Woods to play with. Corner is probably a more urgent need for the Browns, but Johnson was phenomenal in coverage in 2020 and can play a bit of a hybrid role. He’s certainly an underrated name to watch when free agency opens. — Jordan Zirm


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Who we are

Chris Manning: Site Manager at Fear the Sword, co-host of the Locked on Cavs podcast, words at places like Cleveland Magazine and Forbes. On Twitter @cwmwrites

Jordan Zirm: Social editor at @TheCheckdown. Formerly of ESPN Cleveland. Words at B/R, SB Nation and UPROXX. Host of The Rebuild podcast. On Twitter @clevezirm

Alex Hooper: Contributor at Fantasy Sports Insight. Former Cleveland Baseball Club beat writer for 92.3 the Fan (WKRK), and contributor at Sports Illustrated, Let’s Go Tribe, and the News-Herald. On Twitter @lexhooper.

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