The Los Angeles Rams designated cornerback Trumaine Johnson with the franchise tag earlier this month, and recent rumors have them looking to trade him. Does this mean that the Rams think they have someone on the roster that could fill his spot? Or do the Rams see someone in the draft that they feel would be able to be the shutdown corner they need?
If they trade Johnson, they are losing someone whose instincts allow him to make plays all over the field. He has also grown into the closest thing the Rams have to a shutdown corner. Unless the Rams can fill his vacancy immediately, they shouldn’t do it.
Johnson has remained the difference maker in the Rams’ backfield, despite the occasional flash of potential Lamarcus Joyner and E.J. Gaines. Both Gaines and Joyner have struggled through injuries, and Joyner simply doesn’t have the height required to become a No. 1 corner in the NFL. In fact all three of cornerbacks dealt with the injury bug at different times last year. That said when Gaines and Joyner are healthy, they are still not the corner that Johnson is.
It’s believed that the Rams are also looking to trade back into the first round after giving the Titans their first round pick from this year as well as their third round pick. Trading Johnson really only makes sense if can get back into the first round.
Trading Johnson would leave a huge vacancy in the Rams’ secondary, despite his massive salary. Free agency has begun, but stars like Stephon Gilmore and A.J. Bouye are gone. There really are no more No. 1 corners on the market for the Rams. Front offices don’t build winning teams by trading away valuable players that produce at a relatively high level for your team without recouping equal or close to equal value.
This is why the Rams need to keep Johnson, even with his high salary. No one else on the roster has shown the ability to be healthy and productive enough to be the leading corner other than Johnson. If the Rams could have made a splash signing at corner in free agency, then maybe they look to trade Johnson. Seeing as they haven’t yet, trading him is not a smart move at this point.