The Rams opted to apply the franchise tag to cornerback Trumaine Johnson for a second time, despite the 20-percent raise over last year’s eight-figure salary. Since then, mixed signals have emerged as to whether the Rams will keep him under the one-year, $16.74 million tender (which he has signed), trade him, or sign him to a long-term deal.
As the first minicamp of the Sean McVay era began on Tuesday, the mixed signals continued.
“Today he’s a Ram,” G.M. Les Snead told reporters regarding Johnson. “First walk-through [practice on Tuesday], and then we’ll get this minicamp going and it’ll go through OTAs, and the plan I mentioned is still the same. It’s not necessarily going to affect the draft at all. We’ll try to rank the corners from top to bottom. You can always use more than one or two or three good corners. His situation won’t affect it, but right now he’s a Ram, and we plan to go from there.”
The “today he’s a Ram” line prompted an obvious follow-up — is there a chance he’s traded from the Rams tomorrow or one of the next days?
“No, right now, I think we’re more into OTAs and let’s see if we can get something done by the end of this thing,” Snead said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”
Johnson separately spoke to reporters about his situation.
“I’m glad to be a Ram, point blank,” Johnson said. “Coming out here, it’s a privilege to play football. I’m glad I’m on the team, and I’m with the Rams.”
Does he wants a long-term deal?
“Of course,” Johnson said. “We’ve got time right now. That’s not my main focus, I’m going to let my agent handle that. In the meantime, get to know the new guys, be back with the old guys and get all of these new defenses in with the coaches.”
Either way, Johnson is saying he’d like to stay.
“Of course, I love these guys,” Johnson said. “I’m here because I love my teammates. I don’t want to leave and hopefully we get a long-term deal.”
It still seems as if all options are on the table, especially since Johnson has plenty of leverage when it comes to long-term talks. With $16.74 million already guaranteed for 2017 and quarterback money looming if he’s tagged again in 2018, Johnson can (and should) ask for a huge deal in order to commit beyond this season. The Rams also have options; they can draft a replacement, and/or they can use Johnson as bait to replenish draft picks after sending their 2017 first-rounder (No. 5 overall) to Tennessee as part of the Jared Goff trade.