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Browns officially sign John Johnson III and Takkarist McKinley

Club opens free agency by adding one of the game’s top safeties and take a chance at defensive end.

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns made it official on Wednesday by announcing the signings of safety John Johnson III and defensive end Takkarist McKinley.

The team had reached agreements with both players earlier in the week, but had to wait for the start of the NFL league year at 4 p.m. for the moves to be official.

Johnson spent the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. Last season, he led the Rams with 105 tackles, while adding an interception and eight passes defensed. He was also the third-ranked safety by Pro Football Focus after finishing the season with a grade of 85.3.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski likes Johnson’s mix of ability and leadership, he told clevelandbrowns.com:

“He’s a dynamic player that will fit in well with our group. On top of that, I’m excited about the person, as much as I am about the player. He was the captain of the team out there in Los Angeles at such a young age and all the people that I’ve spoken to about him consistently rave about the person that he is and the leader he is for a football team, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to add him to the team.”

Johnson’s deal is considered to be 3 years for $33.75 million with $20 million fully guaranteed. A full breakdown of his deal is available here.

McKinley played in 49 games with 25 starts for the Atlanta Falcons after being drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He had 17.5 sacks with the Falcons, with a high of seven in 2018. The Falcons released him in 2020 and Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry put in repeated waiver claims only to lose out on McKinley to the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, who both failed McKinely on his physical, and the Las Vegas Raiders, who ultimately claimed McKinely but had to put him on injured reserve before he could play a game.

The Browns are hoping that McKinley can regain his ability to get to the quarterback, Stefanski told clevelandbrowns.com:

“We like his pass rush ability and the way he has gotten after the QB throughout his young career. Defensive line was a position that we felt we wanted to address during free agency, and we are excited to add Takk and the impactful tools he possesses to the group that will help make the plays we need along the line.”

McKinley’s deal is reportedly for one year and $4.25 million deal, with incentives that could bump it up to $6 million. A look at his deal is available here.