Rams Expecting Two Key Defenders to Test Free Agency Market

The Los Angeles Rams might have to prepare for life without Ahkello Witherspoon and John Johnson III next season.

Dec 10, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Los Angeles Rams cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (44)
Dec 10, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Los Angeles Rams cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (44) / Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports
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The Los Angeles Rams are coming off a fantastic 2023 season that saw them win 10 games and return to the NFL playoffs. Los Angeles received contributions from star players, rookies, and vets on offense and defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams leaned on their secondary a ton this past season as veteran defensive backs Ahkello Witherspoon and John Johnson III held it down.

Rams GM Les Snead spoke glowingly about both guys this week at the NFL Scouting Combine but understands what’s ahead for the two soon-to-be free agents.

Snead said that the team has had talks with Johnson III and Witherspoon about potential roles for next season. But the Rams expect both guys to hit the open market, per Adam Grosbard of the Orange County Register.

The 28-year-old Witherspoon played well on the perimeter in 2023 for Los Angeles, recording 52 total tackles, 14 pass deflections, three tackles for loss, and three interceptions. 

He also had a 48.1 completion percentage allowed on targets and a 75.7 pass rating allowed when targeted. The former third-round pick proved he can stay healthy for an entire NFL season.

Meanwhile, Johnson III returned to the Rams after spending the previous two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. The 28-year-old safety saw his production dip this past season as he only started in 8 out of 17 games for Los Angeles. 

Johnson produced 42 combined tackles, six pass deflections, and two interceptions in limited action. However, he was solid in pass coverage, with a 61.5 completion percentage allowed on targets and an 81.1 pass rating allowed when targeted. 

Los Angeles doesn’t have solid replacements for either guy on the roster, so they could look to the draft to address the secondary. However, with their success last season, the Rams probably want to keep some consistency with a new defensive coordinator.

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