The Rams have told others that they’re prepared to use the franchise or transition tag in order to retain one of their free agent cornerbacks, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). According to La Canfora, the club is still deciding whether to tag Janoris Jenkins or Trumaine Johnson.
La Canfora’s report is similar to one from Jason Cole of Bleacher Report earlier today. Cole indicated that the Rams would likely use a tag to retain one of their two free agent cornerbacks, adding that the team has offered five-year contract to Jenkins. Per Cole, Los Angeles has yet to make a formal multiyear offer to Johnson, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the club prefers Jenkins, or won’t re-sign Johnson.
When I examined potential franchise-tag candidates earlier this month, I didn’t mention either Jenkins or Johnson, since I didn’t expect the Rams to want to commit to a 2016 salary of nearly $14MM for either player. Since then, however, the team has released several pricey veterans, including defensive end Chris Long, tight end Jared Cook, and linebacker James Laurinaitis. Already armed with plenty of cap flexibility before making those moves, the Rams now have nearly $60MM in space, per Over the Cap, which gives the club more leeway to overspend on a one-year contract.
Coming into the 2015 season, Johnson had started just 20 career games, compared to Jenkins’ 43 total starts. Although conventional thinking suggests Jenkins is the more valuable defensive back, Johnson arguably looked like the better player in 2015, as PFR’s Zach Links wrote in his preview of the Rams’ offseason. Johnson racked up seven interceptions and 17 passes defended, earning a higher Pro Football Focus grade than his teammate.
Assuming the Rams use their franchise or transition tag on one of these two cornerbacks by Tuesday, the team will then have another eight days to try to secure the other player to an extension before he reaches the open market on March 9th.
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