The big signing for the LA Chargers on the first day of legal tampering was none other than top cornerback, J.C. Jackson. However, the Bolts also made another signing that may have flown under the radar, reportedly agreeing to terms to sign now-former New York Giant, Austin Johnson.
Addressing the run defense was one of the most important things for the LA Chargers to do this offseason and the team took a step in the right direction with this move. While this likely signals the end of Justin Jones' tenure in Los Angeles, the Bolts picked up a quality player against the run in Johnson.
Is Johnson someone who is going to significantly raise the ceiling of this team? Not at all. But adding him to the interior defensive line is one less hole that the Chargers have when it comes to stopping the run. Johnson is not just a two-down lineman, either, although his bread and butter does come in early downs.
Just how good is new Chargers defensive lineman Austin Johnson in stopping the run?
Johnson played over 300 run-defense snaps for the Giants in 2021 and was credited with 37 run stops by Pro Football Focus. That gave Johnson a run-stop rate of 10.4%. Of all defensive linemen to play at least 190 run-defense snaps in 2021, Johnson checked in with the 11th-best run-stop rate.
Johnson was one of just 19 defensive tackles to play at least 300 snaps against the run last season. Of those 19, only two defensive linemen had a better run-stop rate than Johnson. Jerry Tillery ranked last.
It was a breakout year for the former second-round pick, who is likely entering his athletic prime as he will be 29 for the 2022 season.
This is an excellent signing by the LA Chargers and still leaves more room to add to the interior defensive line. Johnson is not going to be the team's traditional nose tackle and will instead play most of his snaps in the B gap, which is what Jones did for the Bolts.
Thus, the Chargers still have room to bring in a traditional nose tackle, keeping the door open for Jordan Davis to be the team's first-round pick with the 17th overall pick.
Johnson may not be a household name for NFL fans like Akiem Hicks, but quite frankly, with his age and ability to stop the run the Bolts made a much smarter move in signing Johnson than signing an older, regressing interior defensive lineman like Hicks.
The J.C. Jackson signing is rightfully getting all of the attention today but the Austin Johnson signing might be just as good for the Bolts with all things considered.