As with every other NFL team, the Los Angeles Rams were faced with a difficult decision at the beginning of March. The NFL monitors multiple deadlines for teams in lieu of free agency, such as the franchise tag. After consultation throughout the front office, the Rams decided to place the franchise tag once again on cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
Since he was slated to join free agency, the Rams didn’t want to risk seeing him depart in free agency. The fifth-year veteran is currently slated to become the NFL’s highest paid cornerback, earning roughly $16.742 million for the 2017 season.
Johnson was a key piece in the Rams defensive scheme, which produced top-10 results throughout the 2016 season. However, it appears as though head coach Sean McVay and the front office aren’t sold on keeping Johnson on the roster, as he is reportedly on the trading block, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
The #Rams are in discussions with several teams about potentially trading franchised CB Trumaine Johnson, per teams involved. Big domino.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 7, 2017
Johnson had 57 total tackles last season (47 solo) in 14 games played. He recorded one interception and one fumble recovery, along with 11 passes defended. The defense of the Rams was beneficiaries of Johnson’s ability to play one-on-one coverage.
While Rapoport’s sources indicate there are multiple unnamed teams interested in Johnson, it appears as though one franchise has put their name out there. According to Mark Sessler of NFL.com, an AFC North team has acquired about the asking price:
'Keep an eye on the Cleveland Browns' – @RapSheet on where CB Trumaine Johnson might land if the Rams trade him away.
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) March 7, 2017
The Cleveland Browns are certainly looking for answers on the defensive end, attempting to improve upon the dismal 2016 season. The Browns have been actively shopping for defensive players since last season, when they acquired Jamie Collins from the New England Patriots.
NFL teams are able to begin discussions with free agents from March 7-9, but cannot agree to a deal until 4:00 P.M. PST on March 9. The Rams may agree to a deal before the official signing date, in order to get a head start on the field.
It should also be noted that the 2017 NFL Draft class features a top-tier defensive back class, so McVay may look towards a replacement through the draft process.