A Los Angeles Rams trade of cornerback Trumaine Johnson to the New Orleans Saints halted with the player’s refusal. If the Rams weren’t lamenting signing Johnson to a $16.7 million offer sheet before, they might be now.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (h/t Turf Show Times), Los Angeles and New Orleans had a deal in place to send the highest-paid cornerback in the league for a second-round draft choice (imagine that—the most expensive CB in the league isn’t even worth a first-round draft pick), contingent upon Johnson’s willingness to sign a long-term deal with the Saints:
Only issue was, Johnson was unwilling to agree to a long-term deal in New Orleans because he so badly wanted to remain in Los Angeles, and the Rams have said they aren’t particularly interested in dealing.
Now it will be interesting to see if there’s a team on draft weekend that is willing to trade for Johnson without him agreeing to a long-term deal, and simply playing this season on the franchise tender. It would not be ideal for the team trading for him, but if it were confident enough in its ability to re-sign him, maybe a team would decide it would rather have Johnson than an unproven rookie cornerback, as good as this rookie cornerback class is.
Do I expect it? Not at all. But it’s at least a situation to watch.
That begs the question: If Johnson was so enamored with Los Angeles, why did the Rams offer him the franchise tag? Apparently, they had a lot more leverage than they thought and now are stuck with a $16.7 million corner whose worth doesn’t match his price tag. And a Rams trade at this point seems unlikely.
The only silver lining could be that if Johnson wants to remain with the team, he might be willing to negotiate a long-term deal that doesn’t kill the team’s chances of signing its other defensive players whose contracts are up after 2017.
But the argument that the Rams didn’t have to put the franchise tag on Johnson seems to be winning more and more each day.