CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora has a piece up tonight covering the three players on a franchise tag looking to ink a long-term deal: Washington Football Conglomerate QB Kirk Cousins, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell and Los Angeles Rams CB Trumaine Johnson.
The chances Cousins gets a deal in D.C.? La Canfora gives it 80%. Bell to remain the bellwether in Pitt? 50%.
Tru to work out a multi-year contract extension after being tagged for his second year in a row?
Odds: 0 percent
In most cases I'd never say never, but this is the exception. The sides spoke just once, a ways back, and weren't close enough to even merit a follow-up phone call. Which actually isn't surprising, given the particulars at play. Johnson is a very good corner, but not a Pro Bowler, much less an All Pro. But the Rams opted to keep him on the tag in 2016 when they knew they would lose their best corner at the time, Janoris Jenkins, who became a vital signing for the Giants.
Johnson's camp has played this situation perfectly, willing to gamble on the player and knowing that the Rams' only chance to trying to be competitive would come with keeping its defense together (with the offense non-existent in 2016). So a year later, the Rams tagged Johnson again, and now Johnson will make $31M over two years.
He is the highest paid corner in the NFL in 2017. His pockets are straight. No reason not to play out that tag and keep this process going, knowing he's likely to be a well sought-out free agent next March.
As for the Rams, they are on the cusp of paying defensive lineman Aaron Donald like a quarterback and have bigger fish to fry right now as they fight for relevance in the Southern California marketplace and try to get their stadium built. They've been over-paying players for years, so carrying Johnson at this exuberant rate isn't out of the norm and if I'm repping Johnson I'm not doing much talking ahead of July 15. Play it out. Cash those checks.
As it stands, Trumaine Johnson will be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL in 2017.