The Los Angeles Rams secondary struggled heavily on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, giving up 304 yards and four touchdowns to Dak Prescott and company. Cobie Durant and Derion Kendrick have bore the brunt of the criticism this year for LA’s lack of success in the defensive backfield, both with PFF scores in the mid 50s (Kendrick - 55.4, Durant - 51.2). Last week Kendrick was also arrested on felony gun charges, and it remains to be seen if the Rams will lose him to suspension at some point this season.
They is a chance for Los Angeles to acquire some help though, as late Monday night the Chicago Bears 24-year-old corner Jaylon Johnson was given permission to seek a trade per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, after the two sides could not work out a long-term contract extension.
Sources: The #Bears have given standout CB Jaylon Johnson permission to seek a trade. In the final year of his deal, a trade would make sense.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 31, 2023
After days of discussions, Johnson’s agent Chris Ellison received permission around midnight. 16 hours to make it happen.
Johnson is a very talented, young corner with a PFF score of 84.4 this season. He has 15 tackles, two interceptions and has only given up 11 receptions on 29 targets. He is also allowing just a 37.3 passer rating when targeted by opposing quarterbacks. He recently had two-interception game in Week 7 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
It’s rare for a talent of his kind, at his age, to be available midseason, and while Johnson may not be to the talent level of Jalen Ramsey in his prime when the Rams made that trade back in 2019, it does have a very similar feel.
JAYLON JOHNSON GETS HIS SECOND INTERCEPTION OF THE GAME‼️‼️‼️ ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/9HZFpPZwt9— Lukas Galecki-Shofroth (@TGNCoverage) October 22, 2023
Johnson comes with a base salary of only $2.9 million this year. The Rams have about $4 million in space right now, but will have over $50 million after the season. This allows Los Angeles the ability to work out a long-term deal for the future, which would have to happen if there’s any hope in acquiring Johnson’s talents.
It’s expected that it would take minimally a mid-round pick to get him, maybe even a second, however it should be factored in that the Bears would probably like to get at least something for Johnson, who would hit the free agency market next season if not franchise tagged.
While some would say, “Why would LA have not just kept Ramsey then?” the difference is that Ramsey is almost 30-years-old at this point, and would expect a much larger contract where the team would be stuck with him well past his prime. Johnson, on the other hand, is six years younger, probably would warrant less money per year and would be a valuable player for the duration of the long-term deal given his age.
The Rams need some help in the secondary, and Johnson could be it, not just for this season, but a potential cornerstone in the defensive backfield for years to come.