Chargers show big-time faith in JT Woods by passing on John Johnson

The Chargers could have signed John Johnson a long time ago.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite seeming like a perfect fit for the LA Chargers, veteran safety John Johnson instead signed the LA Rams on Monday months after he was cut by the Cleveland Browns.

Johnson was drafted by the Rams and had a career year for the team in 2020 before he joined the Browns. That career year came under then-defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who made it a habit to bring in previous players that he coached.

With there being question marks at the second starting safety position, it seemed like a no-brainer that Johnson would reunite with his former DC and play alongside the best safety in the sport, Derwin James. It was not meant to be.

But was this a John Johnson decision? Or were the Chargers not interested despite being connected to Johnson earlier in the offseason? Common sense leans toward the latter, as the Bolts are instead betting on their in-house talent.

Chargers show faith in JT Woods by passing on John Johnson

It took Johnson several months to eventually sign a contract and he signed for the minimum. If the Chargers wanted Johnson they could have signed him months ago and had him in the building for the start of camp. It is clear that the team did not think that was necessary.

And the main reason has to be JT Woods. Granted, Alohi Gilman is currently ahead on the depth chart and could be starting over Woods in Week 1. But he is not a long-term option. Gilman is entering a contract year and even if he is a starter, he isn't going to be an every-down option. It will be a collective effort, with Woods potentially playing a prominent role.

Selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Woods simply was not ready in his rookie season. He was viewed as a developmental selection and that was on full display during the season. He got very few chances to actually play in his rookie year and when he did it was not pretty.

His athleticism and play-making ability in coverage was exciting but he made too many mistakes in his reads and was a horrific tackler. Thankfully, those are two things that traditionally get better for a player heading into year two. You can teach someone to read an NFL offense and can teach them better form with tackling. You can't teach them to be as athletic as Woods is.

It is important for fans to always remember the long-term picture with players like JT Woods. Previous players like Kyzir White and Uchenna Nwosu didn't look to be much of anything right away but eventually blossomed into impactful players. Based on the fact that Johnson is a Ram, not a Charger, it feels like Woods is on the right path.