Trumaine Johnson

Trade Rumors: Williams, P2, OBJ

With the trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, and with NFL general managers expecting an active trade season, let’s round up a few of the biggest trade rumors floating around this morning:

  • Multiple teams have inquired about the availability of Jets DE Leonard Williams, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. New York is reportedly not interested in dealing Williams, who is in the last year of his rookie contract, at this time, but that could change. Indeed, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv says multiple sources expect GM Joe Douglas to be extremely active over the next few weeks. Schefter suggests that a third- and fifth-round draft choice may be what it takes for an interested club to land Williams, and Kelechi Osemele, Trumaine Johnson, and even Le’Veon Bell could also be on the move (though the last we heard, there were no trade talks surrounding Bell).
  • In recent weeks, the Cardinals have gotten calls from at least three teams interested in trading for cornerback Patrick Peterson, per Schefter. Peterson is currently serving a six-game ban for violating the league’s PED policy, but we heard several weeks ago that Arizona has no interest in dealing him. According to Schefter, that stance has not changed, as the Cardinals have turned away all potential suitors.
  • Although you won’t find it on PFR, there was apparently a report this past week suggesting that the Browns were listening to offers for receiver Odell Beckham Jr. However, Cleveland GM John Dorsey called that report “fake news,” per Schefter. Dorsey said he has not taken any trade calls on OBJ and has no interest in doing so.
  • If the Bills beat the Dolphins next week to improve to 5-1, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic expects Buffalo GM Brandon Beane to work the phones in search of a wide receiver, defensive tackle, and/or offensive lineman.

Adam Gase On Trumaine Johnson: It Hasn’t Worked Out

As part of their spending spree during the 2018 offseason, the Jets brought in Trumaine Johnson on a five-year, $72MM deal. Earlier this week, Johnson found himself benched against the Browns because of ineffective play.

“It just hasn’t worked out as well as we need it to. The good thing is we have a long ways to go,” head coach Adam Gase said (h/t Michael David Smith of PFT).

The Jets organization reportedly does not believe that the cornerback enjoys football. Johnson missed six games last season with five of those coming because of a quad injury and one coming because of suspension (tardiness).

As our own Zach Links noted, releasing Johnson now would leave the Jets with $24MM in dead money and no salary cap benefit. Cutting him after the season would allow New York to save just $3MM against the cap but leave them with $12MM in dead money.

Jets Doubt Trumaine Johnson’s Commitment

Trumaine Johnson is in Year Two of a five-year, $72.5MM deal. And the Jets do not believe that he loves the sport of football, sources tell Manish Mehta of the Daily News. This is, perhaps, an indication that a divorce could be just around the corner, even though it would be costly for Gang Green. 

Johnson, for his part, says he’s still committed to being the best player he can be.

Of course I love football,” Johnson said. “I’ve been doing it all my life. I’m passionate about it. It’s my life. It’s not a job to me. I love what I do.”

For what it’s worth, Johnson showed more passion in his response than head coach Adam Gase did when explaining why he benched Johnson for the bulk of Monday night’s loss to the Browns.

We just decided not to play him,” said Gase.

Johnson, a breakout star with the Rams, has also been held back by injuries during his Jets tenure. Johnson missed five games last year due to a lingering quad injury and some Jets officials feel that he could have played through the injury, Mehta hears. It’s also worth noting that Johnson missed another game due to a suspension for tardiness.

Johnson, 29, is signed through 2022. Releasing him now would saddle the Jets with $24MM in dead money, with no cap benefit. The Jets could consider cutting ties with Johnson after this season, prior to his $11MM base salary becoming fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year. That move would save the Jets $3MM against the cap, but would still leave them with $12MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Adams, Dolphins

We have more social media drama. On Tuesday, safety Jamal Adams unfollowed the Jets on Instagram.

In years past, this sort of teenage drama wasn’t on our radar, but we’ve seen countless players unfollow their respective teams and ask for trades as of late.

In case you were wondering, Adams still follows the Jets on Twitter as of this writing, so there’s that. Also, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) hears there’s nothing to this latest unfollow scandal, even though the Jets are 0-2 and suffered a Monday night embarrassment at the hands of the Browns.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Jets Notes: Bell, Clowney, Johnson, Kalil, LBs

For a player without a major injury, Le’Veon Bell has gone through a historically light amount of organized football work over the past 19 months. Bell’s game-action delay will continue until Week 1, with Adam Gase indicating (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, on Twitter) his top running back will be held out from Jets preseason games. Bell has not played in a game since the Steelers’ divisional-round loss to the Jaguars in January 2018. His most recent regular-season game was Week 16 of that season. Gase had slammed the door nearly shut on Bell seeing preseason reps, but the first-year Jets coach said Avery Williamson‘s season-ending injury finalized that conversation (Twitter link via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano). For a player who based his ’18 holdout on conservation, this should go along well with his late-2010s M.O.

Here is the Jets latest:

  • Despite the Jets devoting extensive resources to positions that are not typically tabbed as high-value areas, with Bell and C.J. Mosley making out great in free agency, the team largely left its persistent need for edge rushers alone. While Jadeveon Clowney would obviously start for the Jets, were they to make a move for the disgruntled Texans outside linebacker, Cimini writes no trade should be expected. A way it could work: the Jets trade a mid-round pick — worse value than the Texans would have received before the franchise tag extension deadline — and then flip Clowney in a 2020 tag-and-trade. The Jets hold $14.7MM in cap space, so they would have to perform some slight reorganization mechanisms to fit Clowney’s $15.9MM cap figure on their books. For now, the team will head into another season with Brandon Copeland and Jordan Jenkins on the edge.
  • On the inside, Neville Hewitt received the first crack at replacing Williamson. At the Jets’ Green and White scrimmage Sunday night, the four-year veteran — who played 16 Jets games (four starts) last season — lined up in Williamson’s inside ‘backer spot, per Vacchiano (on Twitter). Hewitt’s high-water mark for starts came with the Dolphins in 2016, when the former Miami UDFA started five games.
  • It still appears Bilal Powell, Trenton Cannon and Eli McGuire are competing for two spots. Although the Jets re-signed Powell this offseason, the 30-year-old not playing special teams stands to work against him, Cimini writes. Cannon remains the leading Jets kick-return candidate, pointing to a Bell-McGuire duel for New York’s final running back slot. McGuire is not a key Jets special-teamer, either, and only averaged 3.0 yards per carry last season.
  • Trumaine Johnson‘s adjusted timetable: Week 1. Gase said he is targeting his top cornerback for a return in time for the Jets’ opener. Johnson is dealing with a hamstring injury. He missed six games with leg trouble last year.
  • Not that Ryan Kalil‘s timetable is in question, but the recently signed center had yet to practice with his new team. The Jets deployed him with their first unit (which had some second-stringers sprinkled in) on Sunday night, Cimini adds (via Twitter). The former Panthers snapper has started in the past 12 Week 1s.

Jets Rumors: Johnson, Maye, OL, Griffin

While it was once thought this would be the offseason the Jets overhauled their offensive line, that could well happen in 2020. The Jets, who ranked 32nd in adjusted line yards last season, will return three starters from last season’s group. But when new GM Joe Douglas begins his first free agency period next year, Adam Gase expects him to be aggressive in bolstering the front.

I think the fact that our GM is a former offensive lineman, I’m pretty sure you guys know that he’s going to be looking for those type of guys,” Gase said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “His type of linemen: tough, physical, smart guys that can play multiple positions and play both sides of the line. I think that’s what he’s going to be combing the Earth for.”

Starters Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell are playing on expiring contracts, and recent Douglas acquisition Ryan Kalil is certainly a year-to-year player at this point in his career. The Jets drafted tackle Chuma Edoga in Round 3, but that pick came under Mike Maccagnan‘s watch (and largely not Gase’s). So, next year figures to be telling about Douglas’ blueprint up front.

Here is the from the AFC’s Big Apple franchise:

  • Trumaine Johnson has run into more injury trouble. The high-priced cornerback is now dealing with a hamstring injury, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes the eighth-year defender will be sidelined “indefinitely.” Johnson leads a thin Jets corner group and stands as their unquestioned CB1. Johnson missed six games due to injury last season. Douglas has been searching for veterans for weeks, with Cimini noting the rookie GM is still on that hunt. The Jets opted not to bring back Morris Claiborne, a two-year Gang Green starter. He instead signed with the Chiefs.
  • There is better news elsewhere in the Jets’ secondary. Marcus Maye is off the team’s active/PUP list, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes (on Twitter). The third-year safety had offseason shoulder surgery, with Gase indicating one of the Jets’ two safety starters was dealing with nerve damage. Maye ended last season on IR with the shoulder trouble.
  • Concluding the look at the Jets’ injury front, Brian Winters is also dealing with shoulder trouble. Gase called his right guard starter “week-to-week” but expects him to be ready for Week 1 (Twitter link via Mehta). It sounds like Winters will be shelved for the rest of the team’s preseason slate. This will be Winters’ seventh season as a Jets O-line starter. He’s by far their longest-tenured lineman.
  • In addressing some of the Jets’ position battles, Cimini notes recently added tight end Ryan Griffin is running ahead of backups Eric Tomlinson and Daniel Brown. This is rather important because of starter Chris Herndon‘s four-game suspension. Griffin started 36 games for the Texans, before being released after an arrest this offseason, but has never been too much of a receiving threat.

AFC Notes: Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Broncos

The Jets have “massive buyer’s remorse” after signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson a five-year, $72.5MM deal last offseason, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Johnson, who had been franchise-tagged by the Rams in both 2016 and 2017, is now the NFL’s second-highest paid corner behind only Josh Norman. While he may not have played like a No. 1 CB last season, Johnson’s numbers were much improved from 2017. After ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 60 corner in 2017, Johnson finished 24th in PFF’s grades last year. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, ranked Johnson as a bottom-10 corner in success rate in 2017, but 30th in 2018. Gang Green can’t realistically exit the Johnson contract until after the 2019 campaign.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Steelers appear set to explore the trade market for wide receiver Antonio Brown, but the return for the superstar may not be as lucrative as Pittsburgh hopes. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (video link) surveyed multiple NFL executives and reached the conclusion that the Steelers are likely to receive something in the neighborhood of a third-round pick in exchange for Brown. While he’s still among the NFL’s best pass-catchers, Brown is heading into his age-31 season and will be due north of $15MM in 2019. Additionally, it’s fair to wonder if some rival clubs are skeptical of Brown given his recent off-field antics. Earlier today, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made it clear that he won’t simply give Brown away.
  • Speaking of embattled Steelers, kicker Chris Boswell is likely to face competition in training camp following a down 2018 campaign, as Colbert indicated to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Boswell only converted 65% of his field goal attempts last season, a percentage that ranked him 30th among kickers. He’s due a $2MM roster bonus on March 15, and the Steelers are presumably willing to pay that total given that Colbert says Boswell will be at training camp.
  • Cornerback Jimmy Smith could be a potential cap casualty as the Ravens move forward this offseason, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Smith is scheduled to count for nearly $16MM on Baltimore’s salary cap in 2019 (the highest figure on the club and second-highest among NFL corners), is now 30 years old, and has missed 13 games over the past three season due to injuries and a suspension. The Ravens have plenty of cornerback depth to withstand the loss of Smith (Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young), but he’s still playing at a high level.
  • The Broncos have begun negotiations with offensive lineman Billy Turner, and he may be the sole member of Denver’s unrestricted free agent class that will reach an agreement before the start of the new league year, writes Mike Klis of 9News. A former third-round pick of the Dolphins, Turner signed for $2MM last offseason and should receive a salary bump this year. He played 76% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps a year ago, and could return either as a starter or a valuable reserve in 2019.

Extra Points: Jets, Johnson, Jaguars, Yeldon, Fournette, Blount, Lions

We heard yesterday he was being fired, and the Todd Bowles era ended in very disappointing fashion today. The Jets were destroyed by the Patriots by a final score of 38-3. The defense was shredded by Tom Brady, and the unit was without one of their top players in Trumaine Johnson. Johnson was a healthy scratch, and it was because he was a no show for meetings and practice this week, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN (Twitter link).

Johnson said after the game that he overslept and was late to practice on Wednesday, and that that’s why he was benched, according to Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Johnson was signed away from the Rams this offseason with a massive contract, and has mostly been a disappointment. He’s played pretty well overall, but not at the level to deserve the five-year $72MM contract New York handed him. While GM Mike Maccagnan likely wishes he had that one back, his contract makes it impossible to move on until 2020 at the earliest, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com thinks the Jets might be “trying to set the stage” for a suspension of some sorts that could void guaranteed money in his contract. Any such actions would surely draw a stiff challenge from the player’s union.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Jaguars running backs T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette were caught by TV cameras sitting on the bench for nearly the entire game today instead of standing on the sideline, and head of football operations Tom Coughlin ripped their actions after the game, per Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. “I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette. They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player,” Coughlin said. While Fournette is locked into Jacksonville’s future with his fully guaranteed contract, Yeldon is set to be a free agent at the end of the year and is highly unlikely to be brought back.
  • LeGarrette Blount didn’t seem to have much left in the tank this year with the Lions, but the 32 year old bruising runner wants to play in 2019. Blount only averaged 2.71 yards per carry this year and was an afterthought in the offense when Kerryon Johnson was healthy, so Blount might not be able to find a team willing to bring him in this offseason. He had a very quiet market this past spring before Detroit eventually decided to give him a one year deal.
  • In case you missed it, Matthew Stafford isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Jets Notes: Johnson, Bell, Maccagnan, Bates

The Jets signed Trumaine Johnson to a five-year, $72 million contract this past offseason, and they were surely hoping that the veteran cornerback would provide some stability to their secondary for the foreseeable future. Well, through his first five games with New York, it looks like the team’s assessment may have been a bit off.

Of course, this fact isn’t lost on the organization. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that Johnson has been “profoundly disappointing to people inside the organization.” One source told the reporter that they “[t]hought he’d be better.” Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com writes that “many league observers” have believed that Darryl Roberts (who’s playing on a minimum salary) has been more productive than his richer teammate.

In five games this season, Johnson has compiled 16 tackles, two passes defended, one forced fumble, and one interception, and the defense has look significantly better when the veteran was out of the lineup.

Let’s check out some more notes out of New York…

  • Responding to a reader’s mail, Mehta writes that the Jets have to pursue Le’Veon Bell this offseason, or else the “rebuilding talk has been nothing but lip service.” The running back is undoubtedly the most talented impending offensive free agent, and the team is sitting with more than $90MM in cap space. Most importantly, the front office should be focused on providing Sam Darnold with as many reliable options as possible, and they have a three-year window to do some spending before they have to ink the franchise quarterback to a lucrative extension.
  • With Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan‘s tenure with the organization potentially coming to an end, Darryl Slater of NJ.com graded each of the executive’s notable transactions during his four-year stint. Some of his best moves included the acquisitions of quarterbacks Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Teddy Bridgewater, and Darnold, while the signings of Darrelle Revis, Terrelle Pryor, and Johnson each earned “F” for a grade.
  • Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com takes a look at some offensive coordinator candidates if the Jets ultimately fire Jeremy Bates. The writer ends up pointing to a long list of quarterback coaches, including Zac Taylor (Rams), Press Taylor (Eagles), Mike Kafka (Chiefs), Dave Ragone (Bears), Kevin Stefanski (Vikings), Greg Knapp (Falcons), and Joe Lombardi (Saints). Other notable names on Stypulkoski’s list include former Browns head coach Hue Jackson and former Jets offensive coordinator John Morton.

AFC East Notes: Jets, McCoy, Patriots

The JetsTrumaine Johnson investment hasn’t quite paid off yet. The twice-franchise-tagged cornerback signed a five-year, $72.5MM contract this offseason but has only played since September due to a nagging quadriceps injury. While Johnson returned to practice this week, he’s listed as doubtful for the Jets’ Week 9 game against the Dolphins. And Johnson said he’s ready to come back. Gang Green’s injury report doesn’t seem to concur.

I definitely feel like I’m there, but that’s the coach’s decision, the trainer’s decision,” Johnson said, via the New York Daily News’ Howie Kussoy. “It’s not my choice.”

The seventh-year cornerback battled quad trouble in 2015 but only missed two games. His return to limited practice work this week certainly points to a return in Week 10 against the Bills, barring a setback. At 3-5 and spiraling out of contention, the Jets need all the help they can get.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East, shifting first to offseason matters for the rebuilding Jets.

  • While big-ticket players like Le’Veon Bell or Jadeveon Clowney (were they to reach free agency) would be within reach for a Jets team that will have north of $100MM in 2019 cap space and intends to spend, several slightly lower-tier options stand to be available. Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram, Golden Tate and Devin Funchess are some of the skill-position options who could be Jets targets, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News writes. Devonta Freeman may not be entering 2019 on a high note, but the Falcons’ starting back is not a realistic release candidate next year. That could lead Coleman out of Atlanta. None of the other skill cogs here have entered into substantive extension talks with their respective teams, either.
  • LeSean McCoy‘s legal team filed a response to Delicia Cordon’s lawsuit this week, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. The Bills running back wants Cordon’s lawsuit to be dismissed, per Rodak (on Twitter), and continues to deny his ex-girlfriend’s claim that he physically abused her. No ruling’s come down on Cordon’s suit yet, and McCoy continues to play. But this matter could potentially bring a suspension in the future.
  • Free agent offensive lineman Jason King filed an injury grievance against the Patriots, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. King joins Kenny Britt and Malcolm Mitchell in filing injury grievances against the Pats. King’s grievance is for his $363K injury split salary, per Volin. The Patriots twice signed and twice cut King this offseason, the most recent transaction coming when the team cut him after the preseason slate.