According to a report from CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, the Detroit Lions are one of four teams that have expressed interest in Los Angeles Rams free agent safety John Johnson. Per Jones, the Lions are competing with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns.
Johnson is a natural fit with the Lions, seeing as Detroit’s general manager Brad Holmes was a pivotal voice in the Rams war room that brought Johnson to Los Angeles. Additionally, the Lions’ current defensive backs coach, Aubrey Pleasant, coached the Rams’ cornerbacks for the past four years, so he’s likely got a good idea of who the Lions would be getting in Johnson.
He would also fit a huge need for Detroit, as both myself and Erik Schlitt outlined in our free agency preview.
We’re in Year 4 of “This is the season Tracy Walker will break out.” Time to start thinking about contingency plans, especially since Detroit doesn’t have a viable second starting safety. This is why everyone says John Johnson makes too much sense to the Lions. He just does.
Johnson should be the Lions’ top priority regardless of position this free agency period. Not only do the Lions desperately need a starting safety in 2021, but Harris is also the only safety signed to the roster in 2022. I believe safety is just as big a need on this roster as wide receiver and the Lions need to attack free agency with this mentality.
The Lions will have significant competition for Johnson, though. As NFL insider Adam Caplan notes, the Browns are expected to “make a strong effort” for Johnson. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have a ton of cap space and can outbid anyone else in on negotiations.
Johnson is coming off his best season yet, earning a career-high 85.6 PFF grade (third among all safeties) while also notching eight passes defended and 105 tackles.
UPDATE: NFL insider Benjamin Allbright predicts the Lions will end up with Johnson: