Trumaine Johnson

La Canfora On T. Johnson, Crabtree, Marshall

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson will not be back with the Rams, according a league source who spoke with Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Johnson is coming off of his second straight franchise tag and there is no realistic chance of the team hitting him with a third tender for $20MM, but it appears that the team is not interested in keeping him on board altogether.

Johnson graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 68 corner out of 121 players at the position this past year and it’s safe to say the Rams expected more after investing $37MM in him over the past two seasons. The Rams may feel that Johnson’s reputation will drive up his cost on the open market, making a new deal untenable.

Here’s more from JLC:

  • Safety Sean Smith and wide receiver Michael Crabtree are not in the Raiders’ plans, JLC hears. If that’s the case, moving on from both players will create about $16MM in cap and cash savings. It’s no surprise to hear that Smith is likely out of the picture in Oakland – he underperformed in 2017, he is facing felony assault charges, and his entire $8.5MM cap charge can be wiped clean from the books. Crabtree’s status isn’t so cut and dry, particularly after Jon Gruden‘s recent comments indicating that he was looking forward to working with the veteran.
  • Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall feels that he has multiple seasons left in the tank, but JLC hears that he is not in the team’s plans for 2018. Marshall, who will turn 34 in March, can be released in order to create $5.1MM in cap space with just $1MM in dead money. The veteran missed the bulk of the season after undergoing ankle surgery.
  • League sources believe that Bears quarterback Mike Glennon will not be back with the team this season. The Bears signed Glennon three-year, $45MM deal last March with the hope that he could hold down the starting job for at least one year while Mitch Trubisky learned on the sidelines. After Glennon faltered for the first month of the season, he was given the hook in favor of the team’s top draft pick. The Bears could save $11.5MM by releasing or trading Glennon with $4.5MM left on the cap.
  • JLC also hears that cornerback Kyle Fuller will not be retained by the Bears. Chicago declined Fuller’s fifth-year option last offseason which was something of a no-brainer after he spent all of 2016 on IR. This year, Fuller looked sharp as he totaled 68 tackles and placed as PFF’s No. 22 ranked cornerback over the likes of Ronald Darby, Byron Maxwell, Jason McCourty, Richard Sherman, and other notables.

Rams Notes: Donald, Watkins, Johnson

The Rams’ offseason plans hinge greatly on getting an extension done with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. However, team general manager Les Snead will not specify if he is the “first or last domino to fall,” ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez writes.

“What I do know is he is an important domino,” Snead said. It is likely Donald will become the highest-paid defender at some point this offseason, and the signing will dictate much of what the Rams can do with the rest of their salary cap.

Gonzalez also notes that a deal might have to wait until after Oakland resigns Khalil Mack for talks to begin to get serious. One of the frontrunners for 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, Donald is set to make $6.89MM in 2018, which is half of what Mack, who was taken eight spots higher than him in the 2014 NFL Draft, is expected to make.

Whenever Donald does ink a deal, there is no doubt he will be worth the pay raise. In his four seasons, the Pitt product has earned four Pro Bowl selections and has been named First Team All-Pro in each of the last three seasons. In 2017, Donald tied his career high with 11 sacks and furthered his reputation as the game’s top interior pass rusher.

Here is more from the Rams:

  • Gonzalez writes that using a franchise or transition tag on Sammy Watkins makes sense. Acquired by the Rams prior to the start of the 2017 campaign, Watkins provided a decent season eight touchdown grabs but only saw 67 targets. Another year in the high-powered offense will allow the fourth-year wideout to reach his potential after developing a better rapport with quarterback Jared Goff. The Rams traded a 2018 second-round pick and E.J. Gaines to the Bills for Watkins, and it would make sense they would want to see their investment for a full year in their system.
  • Snead can definitely see a scenario in which Trumaine Johnson returns to the team in 2018, Gonzalez reports. With Kayvon Webster out with an Achilles injury, it would make sense for the Rams to explore all options with the sixth-year cornerback. Gonzalez notes they would have to pay him like a top cornerback.
  • If Donald gets an extension, Watkins and Lamarcus Joyner are tagged, and Johnson is resigned, Gonzales thinks the team would look at parting with Robert Quinn or Mark Barron to make ends meet.

West Notes: Reid, Broncos, Carroll, Rams

Eric Reid looks set to become a UFA for the first time. The fifth-year safety’s 49ers contract expires after Week 17, and should the former first-round pick hit the market, he’ll be doing so at age 26 and with five seasons of full-time starter work. However, Reid is aware his protest participation over the past two years could play a role in his market.

I wouldn’t use the word ‘concerned.’ I’d say I understand that that’s a possibility,” Reid said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, when asked about his potential UFA market diminishing because of his participation in the Colin Kaepernick-led protest movement. “And I’m completely fine with that. The things that I’ve done, I stand by. And I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said I’m fine with whatever outcome comes because of that.”

Pro Football Focus rates Reid as a middle-of-the-pack safety this season. He’s suffered injuries in back-to-back years as well. But the ex-LSU cog started for an NFC championship game entrant as a rookie, earning Pro Bowl recognition, and has gone on to play both safety spots in San Francisco.

Here’s the latest from the Western divisions as the majority of those coalitions’ teams prepare for their seasons’ final games.

  • Vance Joseph‘s bid at a second Broncos season is suddenly at risk. After ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported the rookie HC was facing longer odds at returning, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the growing sense is Joseph will be canned after today’s finale. Several Broncos players have come out in support of Joseph, and a report earlier this month said Joseph was likely to earn a second season. But eight of Denver’s 10 losses have been by double digits, putting Joseph in line to possibly become the franchise’s first one-and-done coach.
  • Pete Carroll‘s obviously earned protection against being fired, but the eighth-year Seahawks coach doesn’t sound like he’s close to leaving the sideline especially soon. Seemingly in response to a rumor about a possible retirement floated by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, the 66-year-old HC said (on Twitter) “I ain’t old enough to think about retiring.”
  • Trumaine Johnson is finishing out his second franchise-tagged season, but he’s unsure the Rams will bring him back. The cornerback said at the beginning of the season it didn’t sound like he was in the team’s long-term plans, but he’s played a big role for a contending team this season. And Johnson, who turns 28 on Monday, pointed out this week he would like to stay in Los Angeles. “I’d love to be around,” Johnson said, via Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News. “But again, I understand the business side of it, so we’ll see. We’ll see in these next couple months.”
  • Sean McVay (via Hammond) isn’t sure Mark Barron will return for the Rams’ playoff opener next weekend. The linebacker’s battling an Achilles’ tendon injury and will be one of many players the Rams will rest today.
  • Jamaal Charles is inactive for the Broncos‘ season finale, and the 10th-year running back will fall just short of a $100K incentive, the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala notes (on Twitter). Charles was to earn that bonus if he reached 500 yards from scrimmage, which was one of many thresholds in his incentive-laden contract. The 31-year-old back looked like a lock to get there at midseason, but he fell out of Denver’s rotation and will end his season with 425 yards. This could be the end for the two-time All-Pro, although he said earlier this season he wanted to play two more seasons.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Gordon

A few notes from the AFC North:

  • Financial details on Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin‘s newly minted contract extension are unavailable, but the belief is that he’s close behind the NFL’s highest-paid sideline leaders – New England’s Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll – in annual salary, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. While one of Tomlin’s superiors, general manager Kevin Colbert, could be in line for an extension of his own, owner Art Rooney II suggested Thursday that there’s no timetable to reach an agreement. “They’re not tied together in any sort of timing situation,” Rooney said. “I hate to speculate on contracts because they get done when they get done.”
  • A recent CBS Sports report suggested that Pittsburgh is interested in trading for Rams franchise-tagged cornerback Trumaine Johnson, but “several Steelers sources laughed at that premise,” Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette writes. At $16.74MM, Johnson is the league’s top-paid corner. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ entire cornerback corps only makes $12.49MM.
  • When asked Thursday about a potential reinstatement for suspended Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, commissioner Roger Goodell said it is “not under active consideration to my knowledge…at least it hasn’t gotten to my desk yet” (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer). The 26-year-old was denied reinstatement by the league office in May and informed that he could not reapply again until the fall, so Goodell’s update here in August doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Latest On Aaron Donald, Trumaine Johnson

The Rams have made a substantial extension offer to Aaron Donald, Les Snead said (via Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com).

Donald remains a camp holdout, and the most recent news coming out of Los Angeles hasn’t moved the needle much on a re-up for the dominant interior defender. Dialogue between the Rams and Donald is ongoing, however, Snead said.

We want Aaron here and we want to make him a Ram for a long time,” Sean McVay said, via La Canfora, “and in the little bit of time I’ve spent with him it doesn’t take long to see what kind of a special player he is, based on the tape, and what kind of person he is and how much he loves the game of football and his teammates. That’s why we want to get it figured out.”

The 26-year-old defender is due just $3.225MM this season. That number rises to $6.892MM in 2018 because of the fifth-year option. But Donald, a two-time All-Pro, has obviously proven he’s worth top-market money. Ndamukong Suh‘s six-year, $114MM — negotiated while Suh was a UFA — remains the standard for interior defenders. Von Miller‘s six-year, $114.6MM deal represents the high for all defensive players.

La Canfora added the Rams are open to making a trade as well. Shedding Trumaine Johnson‘s $16.742MM franchise tag salary would be an avenue to clear cap space — the Rams hold just $3.78MM at present — and La Canfora reports the Steelers are among the teams inquiring about a possible deal for the sixth-year corner. While that wouldn’t exactly be in Pittsburgh’s draft-centric nature, and La Canfora doubts L.A. would pull the trigger after the Gaines deal, Johnson has proven himself to be an upper-echelon corner. The Steelers return their cornerback trio from last season in Ross Cockrell, 2016 first-rounder Artie Burns and William Gay

NFC Notes: T. Johnson, Elliott, Martin

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson is clearly disappointed that he did not receive a long-term deal and that he will be play out the season under his second consecutive franchise tag, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. Johnson said his focus is now on the field, but he added, “I wanted [a multi-year deal]; I wanted it big time. I believe the Rams are going in a different direction at the end of the season. It’s out of my control.” 

While it is impossible to say for certain whether the Rams will move on from Johnson at the end of the year, it does seem as if that will be the case. Indeed, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports tweets, Los Angeles put the tag on Johnson because it wanted to see what new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could do with him. If Phillips had not joined the club, Johnson would already be elsewhere, per Robinson, and even with Phillips on the sidelines, it is difficult to see Johnson elevating his play enough to convince the Rams to give him elite CB money on a long-term basis.

Let’s take a look at a few more rumors from the NFC:

  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said embattled running back Ezekiel Elliott met with NFL officials in New York last month to discuss the domestic violence allegations levied against him. While Jones does not have a timeframe for the league’s much-anticipated decision, he did say “everything is in place” for that decision, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes.
  • We heard earlier this month that the Buccaneers are well-stocked at running back even without Doug Martin, who will miss the first three games of the 2017 season due to suspension. And, as Dan Graziano of ESPN.com writes, GM Jason Licht is so pleased with his stable of RBs that he says Martin may not be the starter when he returns in Week 4. That may just be GM-speak to give Martin a little extra motivation, but it underscores how comfortable Tampa Bay is with its backs, who do offer a nice variety of skill-sets.
  • New Saints offensive lineman Orlando Franklin started all 16 games for the Chargers last year after an injury-plagued 2015, but he graded out as one of the seven worst qualified guards in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. However, Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate writes that Franklin had knee surgery in January, and Franklin says he was never fully healthy during his time in San Diego. This year, he expects to return to the form he displayed during his best seasons in Denver.
  • The Lions were the first team to reach out to LB Zach Orr when he announced his intention to come out of retirement, but Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press says Detroit is unlikely to sign Orr, which is consistent with a report we heard yesterday afternoon.
  • Eagles rookie CB Randall Goforth has suffered a season-ending ACL tear, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). Goforth, a UDFA from UCLA, had a real chance for playing time given Philadelphia’s shaky cornerback situation.
  • Giants rookie safety Jadar Johnson, whom the team signed as a UDFA this year, has decided to retire from football, as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets.
  • Redskins RB Keith Marshall tore his right patella tendon and will miss the 2017 season, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Washington selected Marshall in the seventh round of the 2016 draft, but he missed the entire 2016 season with an elbow injury. He now will have to wait until 2018 to get his NFL career on track.

No Deal For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

The franchise tender extension deadline has come and gone. With no deals struck for the three players in question, we now know that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson will be playing out the 2017 season on one-year deals. Trumaine Johnson (vertical)

We’ve believed this to be the most expected outcome for a while now, though Bell was the most likely to sign of the trio. Although Bell might have liked to sign a multi-year deal before this afternoon’s deadline, all three players are still in great shape for the coming year. Cousins will make roughly $24MM on his second straight franchise tag. Johnson will make $16MM on his second time on the tender. Bell will collect a $12MM+ salary on his first ever franchise tag.

The Redskins, Steelers, and Rams can all use the franchise tag on these players next year, but the price would be uncomfortably high in the cases of Bell ($14MM) and Cousins ($34MM) and downright outlandish in the case of Johnson ($20MM). If all goes right for them in 2017, they’re all in position to get paid in 2018 and beyond, one way or another.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Deadline Approaching For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

A major deadline is fast approaching for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. If the three franchise-tagged players do not sign an extension with their respective clubs by 4pm ET/3pm CT, they will play out the season on a one-year tender and will not be able to reignite long-term talks until January. Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

So far, there hasn’t been significant movement towards a deal for any of the three players in question, though Bell is more likely to sign a multi-year pact than the other two. Then again, after last year’s deadline brought us a surprise accord between the Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson, nothing can be ruled out.

The Redskins have slowly upped their offer to Cousins over the last year, but a major gulf still divides the two parties. Cousins’ agent is said to be seeking $24MM annually on a new deal, a number reflective of his ~$24MM tender for 2017. The Redskins, meanwhile, have only offered $20MM per season on a five-year pact. The proposal, which was made back in May, only truly guarantees the first two years for Cousins, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. When considering the gap in dollars and the possibility that Cousins would rather be somewhere else long-term, it seems likely that the QB will play out the year on his tender.

On Monday morning, we heard that there was nothing imminent between the Steelers and Bell. Still, a long-term deal makes plenty of sense for both sides. Bell’s camp is aware of the injury risk that running backs carry and they would certainly forego some upside in favor of security. The Steelers, on the other hand, do not want to chance having to cuff Bell with a one-year, $14MM repeat franchise tender next offseason. Even though there hasn’t been a lot of reported progress on a deal in recent weeks, this one feels too logical not to happen.

On the flipside, it would be a shock to see the Rams and Johnson shake hands on a deal this afternoon. Johnson believes that he could be paid like a top cornerback on the open market next spring and unless he turns in a historically spectacular season, there’s little chance that the Rams will tag him for a third straight year at $20MM. Instead, Johnson will happily play out the year for $16.742MM and worry about his future next offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rams, Elliott, Wentz, Redskins

There’s still no movement toward a deal between the Rams and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, per ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez, who’s the latest to report that he’ll play 2017 under the franchise tag. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson relayed earlier this week that no agreement would come to fruition by Monday’s deadline, meaning Johnson will play the season as the NFL’s highest-paid corner. Johnson will earn $16.742MM in his second straight year as the Rams’ franchise player, and the likelihood is that he’ll test the free agent market next offseason. Tagging him again isn’t going to happen because doing so would cost the Rams $24.1MM.
Elsewhere around the NFC…
  • The NFL needs to make a decision on whether to suspend Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott as soon as possible, opines Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. In doing so, he league would ensure that the internal appeals process would be resolved by Week 1, reasons Florio. Elliott is bracing for a season-opening ban, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and Florio wonders if the league leaked that information to Schefter in order to gauge the opinions of both the public and Jerry Jones. The Cowboys owner has made it known to NFL higher-ups that he won’t react kindly if the league suspends one of his stars without ample justification, reports Florio. Given the power Jones has, the NFL “needs to placate” him, writes Florio; at the same time, the league’s also in a difficult situation because it can’t afford to screw up another ruling involving domestic violence.
  • The Eagles want to “take a little bit off” second-year quarterback Carson Wentz‘s plate this season, head coach Doug Pederson told Comcast SportsNet’s John Clark this week (via Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com). Pederson believes that the offseason additions of wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount should make life easier for Wentz, who didn’t have enough help at the skill positions last season and attempted 607 passes – the second-highest rookie total in NFL history, notes Frank. “Everything doesn’t have to fall on Carson’s shoulders and I think sometimes a little bit last year he felt that way and things had to fall his way a little bit to make a play and I don’t think we have to do that this year,” said Pederson.
  • Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall agreed to a pay cut last month, but he’ll still enter training camp in danger of losing his roster spot, suggests Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. A couple of other veteran safeties, Will Blackmon and Josh Evans, are also on the bubble, per Tandler. Injuries limited Hall to just 17 games over the previous three seasons, including a mere three in 2016. Conversely, staying healthy hasn’t been a problem for the 32-year-old Blackmon, who has made 30 of 32 appearances and logged 16 starts since joining the Redskins prior to 2015. Evans, a regular for the Jaguars from 2013-15, was on and off Washington’s roster last year and only played two games.

Poll: Which Players Will Sign By Deadline?

With five days to go until the deadline for teams to sign franchise tagged players to extensions, there apparently hasn’t been a ton of progress for any of the three players in question. Still, we’ve had some mid-July surprises in the past, like last year’s last minute extension for Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. Here’s a quick refresher on where things stand for Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, and Trumaine Johnson:

Kirk Cousins

There has been no movement towards a deal for the Redskins and Cousins, and both sides are apparently alright with that. You know the deal by now: Cousins is looking at a $24MM salary in 2017 and the Redskins will have to give him a tender worth at least $28MM to keep him away from unrestricted free agency next season. Cousins is confident in his abilities and eager to push the market for quarterbacks, so he is not all that inclined to sign a multi-year deal. Kirk Cousins

Cousins’ agent probably won’t consider any offer with less than $52MM guaranteed. If his camp really wants to drive a hard bargain, it will insist on a minimum $58MM in the bag since that factors in the value a third franchise tag in 2018 ($34MM) rather than the $28MM transition tag, which would only give Washington the first right of refusal.

Cousins, like any player in extension talks, must weigh the benefit of cost certainty versus the upside of the open market. But, with the way quarterbacks get paid in the NFL, he is looking at a high floor. Cousins is not considered to be a top five QB, but if he were to put pen to paper today, he would be the highest-paid player in the NFL – at least for a couple of weeks. Even if Cousins has a mild regression in 2017, he’ll still be looking at either a one-year, ~$30MM deal in Washington or a $100MM+ deal in free agency. In order for the soon-to-be 29-year-old to sign, he’ll either have to be wowed by an offer or he’ll have to catch a case of cold feet in the coming days.

Le’Veon Bell

Le'Veon Bell (vertical)Bell, by any measure, is one of the very best running backs in the NFL. In a suspension-shortened 2016 season, Bell earned his second career trip to the Pro Bowl as he ran for 1,268 yrds off of 261 carries, mirroring a career-high of 4.9 yards per attempt. He also added 75 receptions for 616 yards. When averaged out on a per-game basis, his 2016 numbers actually bested his 2014 campaign, a season in which he was a First-Team All-Pro selection. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus had Bell ranked as the third best RB in the league last season, behind only Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson.

While there has been talk about Cousins being less-than-thrilled with Redskins management, Bell has been open about wanting to stay in Pittsburgh. The feeling is mutual as the Steelers want to keep in him in the fold for the long term. So, what’s the holdup?

Bell is probably seeking to overtake Bills star LeSean McCoy as the highest-paid running back in the NFL. The Steelers are probably willing to oblige, but, as we all know, there’s a difference between becoming the market-setter in terms of years/dollars and the true value of a deal. If Bell wants to sign a five-year deal worth more than $40MM, odds are that he could do that right now. What he’s really after, however, are substantial guarantees with significant cash flow in the first two years of the deal.

Running backs are always at a high risk of injury and teams are typically adversed to paying out real dollars for them on multi-year deals, even if the cases of exceptional players like Bell. The Steelers are hoping to find a happy medium with Bell in the coming days since his $12MM price tag for this year is high and a potential $14MM tag for 2018 is spit take worthy.

Trumaine Johnson

Like Cousins, this is the second year in a row that Johnson has been hit with the franchise tag. Where the situations differ is that there is zero chance the Rams will apply the tag to Johnson for a third year in a row. If Johnson plays out the year on his one-year, $17MM tender, he’ll hit unrestricted free agency at the age of 28 because there’s virtually no chance that the Rams would tag him at upwards of $24MM in 2018. Trumaine Johnson (vertical)

Johnson has yet to establish himself as an elite cornerback, but this would be the time to do it as he enters a contract year. The Rams’ strong front seven should keep opposing quarterbacks under duress, allowing Johnson to swarm receivers on immature routes. It appears that Johnson has little incentive to sign a long-term deal here, unless the Rams are willing to make a cap-crippling commitment.

On Tuesday, it was reported that nothing is currently in the works for Johnson and the Rams. Things will have to change dramatically in order for Johnson to be committed to L.A. beyond 2017.

Take your pick

Which of these three players, if any, will sign extensions before the deadline on Monday? Cast your vote below and back up your choice in the comment section.