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Browns reportedly moving on from John Johnson III

Cleveland will look to trade veteran safety and if they find no interest will release him, according to

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have reportedly made the decision to move on from veteran safety John Johnson III.

They will look to trade Johnson, who is entering the final year of his contract, and if nothing materializes they will release Johnson at the start of the league year on March 15, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

Cleveland signed Johnson in 2021 to a three-year contract with $24 million in guaranteed money. He was scheduled to carry a cap hit of $13.5 million this season, which has always put him in line for a restructured contract or a release as general manager Andrew Berry needs to begin working on the club’s salary cap.

If the Browns ultimately release Johnson, it will likely be with a post-June 1 designation to save $9.75 million on this year’s cap and set Johnson’s dead cap number at $3.75 million.

In his two years with the Browns, Johnson was never the impact player the team hoped he would be when they signed him after he played four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. With the Rams, Johnson posted three seasons with overall defensive grades and pass coverage grades above 80, according to Pro Football Focus, but was under 70 in both categories with the Browns.

All told, Johnson played 32 games with the Browns, finishing with 162 tackles, one sack, four interceptions and three forced fumbles.

The Browns will certainly now be in the market for a safety, with options in both free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft, where Cleveland currently holds eight draft picks.