The Trumaine Johnson contract impasse in 2017 means the Los Angeles Rams roster likely will look different in 2018
The 2017 Los Angeles Rams roster will not get financial relief from Trumaine Johnson. In turn, Johnson likely will not get financial compensation from the team after 2017. According to ESPN.com, the sixth-year Rams cornerback will play the 2017 season under the franchise tender, as he did in 2016.
He and the Rams will not come to terms on a contract extension before the July 17 deadline. Los Angeles will owe him $16.742 million in 2017 after paying him $13.952 million last season. So he won’t be destitute if the Rams decline to re-sign him during the offseason.
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Which likely is the only conclusion that the franchise will reach.
The Rams have to lock up All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald to a long-term deal, and they have other defensive contracts expiring after next season as well.
Even if Johnson has a stellar 2017, the Rams won’t have the money to throw at the cornerback in deference to Donald. The front office will have to be creative as it is to surround Donald with a supporting cast that keeps the defense solid for the next few seasons.
Johnson will have earned more than $30 million over the last two seasons from L.A. Why would he give the Rams a big discount after earning that much money? If Johnson were that valuable, the Rams would’ve already signed him.
The Rams’ next contract offer will not be anything close to $30 million, unless they shed other large contracts (we’re looking at you, Tavon Austin). For that to happen, Johnson better have a significant uptick in play from his 2016 performance. Scout.com reported:
The 27-year-old experienced his fair share of difficulties in the 2016 campaign recording 57 total tackles, 11 pass deflection, and one interception in 14 games played. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as the 27th overall player at his position (81.0), 26th in pass coverage (81.6), and 98th against the run (39.2). He also allowed an 83.7 passer rating in coverage while giving up eight touchdowns, which was tied for the eighth-most in the NFL.
That doesn’t merit $15 million per season. And Johnson even skipped out on a week of OTAs, even though he said his contract wasn’t the issue, the Los Angeles Times reported. Johnson has refused to help the Rams with their salary cap issues. He didn’t think to alert the coaching staff he was not attending voluntary workouts.
The ever-optimistic Rams hope new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can mold a playoff-worthy defense this season. That defense must include Johnson. Nothing he has done has indicated a loyalty to the franchise.
If Phillips can work his magic, then the Rams should attract other quality cornerback free agents after 2017. If the Rams struggle defensively, Johnson will have proven himself expendable. Which means the Rams roster should expect one significant subtraction after next season.