The Rams have franchised Johnson in back-to-back years, buying time while hoping to avoid paying him like a top-flight cornerback. A continual lack of depth at the position could leave them with little choice. Their No. 2 corner, Kayvon Webster, suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon last month. Their slot corner, Nickell Robey-Coleman, is a free agent. And beyond that, there isn’t much on their roster (though Troy Hill did step up down the stretch). Johnson -- the only Rams corner with real size at 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds -- did a nice job shadowing top-flight receivers in 2017. To keep him, the Rams would probably have to pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $13 million a year. General manager Les Snead said he could “definitely” see Johnson returning. But Snead also said that at those prices, players must be “ideal scheme fits.” The Rams must ask themselves that about Johnson.
Today, Alden’s colleague, Field Yates, is weighing in on the top FA decisions for each team with his advice. For the Rams, he says it’s time to move on:
There is a spirited conversation to be had about Johnson’s value, as some around the NFL view him as a player better suited to be a strong complementary corner than a true lockdown defender. After successive franchise tags, Johnson is no doubt looking for that lockdown corner money, and the Rams are in a healthy salary-cap standpoint with a major need at the position. But given the need to extend Aaron Donald and an interest in retaining Sammy Watkins, and with an eye toward the future (Todd Gurley is now eligible for an extension, for example), the team must be mindful of balancing the books in terms of which players are financial priorities.
Verdict: Let Johnson walk.
It’s obviously a difficult decision. TST’s Misone Adiasor made a fine case yesterday that Tru is the best cornerback on the market; most rankings would agree. I do recognize Yates’ conclusion weighs heavily not necessarily on a new deal depending less on Johnson deserving one and more on the other deals the Rams have to make.
What say you, Rams fans? Would you keep Tru around on an expensive deal or is it time for Priority A to finally die?