Trumaine Johnson

Jets, Falcons, Rams, Bears To Gain Cap Room Via Post-June 1 Cuts

The Bears, Falcons, Jets, and Rams will gain additional cap space starting Tuesday, as Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. The extra flexibility comes from the following releases that have been designated as post-June 1 cuts: 

Players released after June 1 can have their remaining cap charge spread out across two seasons, rather than one. These four players were released earlier this year, but designated as post-June 1 cuts to smooth out the dead money.

For these teams, a chunk of this money will go towards funding the incoming rookie class. However, there will still be some room left over for summer upgrades, thanks to the top-51 rule. In the case of the Falcons, they’ll have about $8.25MM to spend, as Kevin Knight of The Falcoholic notes.

The additional space could jumpstart talks for June’s best remaining free agents, a group that includes defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Logan Ryan, and guard Larry Warford. The Jets probably won’t go for Clowney, but they’ve shown serious interest in Ryan and Warford would make some sense for them if they want to upgrade over Brian Winters.

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AFC East Notes: Brady, Dolphins, Jets

For the first time since they drafted Drew Bledsoe at No. 1 overall in 1993, the Patriots have a need at quarterback. Tom Brady‘s Buccaneers announcement appears imminent. As for Brady’s Foxborough exit, Robert Kraft did not believe the 42-year-old icon wanted to make it work in New England any longer.

This wasn’t about that,” Kraft said regarding the financial component to this process (via Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston). “Tom was not going to be happy being in our system.”

Brady will leave the Patriots for a team that employs arguably the NFL’s premier wideout tandem — in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin — and tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. The Patriots’ refusal to give Brady an extension in 2019, along with their diminishing post-Rob Gronkowski skill-position cadre helped lead Brady to Florida, Curran posits. Replacing even an aging version of Brady will certainly not be easy for the Pats. They have been linked to Andy Dalton, but Albert Breer of SI.com anticipates the team will wait and acquire a cheaper veteran. Among the passers left in free agency: Jameis Winston, Colt McCoy and Blake Bortles.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, starting with news from the Jets’ latest effort to upgrade their edge-rushing situation:

  • Linked to being interested in a Joe Burrow trade-up, the Dolphins still plan to attempt that move, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. While the Bengals are not expected to entertain trade-up offers, the Dolphins are the only team with three first-round picks. If the Dolphins cannot pull off a Burrow coup, they want to leave the draft with either Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert, Salguero adds. The Dolphins now must be cognizant of the Chargers’ actions. The Bolts, who pick one spot behind the Dolphins at No. 6, are not expected to pursue any veteran quarterbacks after missing on Brady. That points them to taking a passer at No. 6 or trading in front of the Dolphins to land one.
  • Long connected to Dante Fowler, the Jets watched the UFA edge defender choose the Falcons instead. The Jets were not prepared to go to the $16MM-AAV place the Falcons did, per Connor Hughes of The Athletic (on Twitter). Gang Green was linked to Fowler earlier in free agency, along with Jadeveon Clowney, however Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News noted to PFR the team was an aggressive player for Fowler and was not in the mix for the former top-five pick once free agency began. While the latter remains available, almost certainly due to injury concerns, the Jets’ edge options are narrowed. Longtime Jet Jordan Jenkins remains unsigned as well.
  • The Jets have designated Trumaine Johnson as a post-June 1 cut, allowing them to spread out the cap hit that comes from releasing a highly paid player two years into a five-year deal. Johnson’s release will now cost the Jets $4MM in 2020 and $8MM in 2021, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Overall, the Jets saved $11MM in 2020 by making this cut. They cannot use any funds created by the Johnson release until June, however.

Jets To Release Trumaine Johnson

The Jets will officially cut Trumaine Johnson when the league year opens this afternoon, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This has been a long expected move as the Jets look to move on from an absolute disaster of a free agent signing. 

Since-fired GM Mike Maccagnan signed Johnson to a five-year, $72.5MM in 2018 after striking out on quarterback Kirk Cousins and other top targets. What seemed like an over-pay at the time went in a much worse direction than anyone could have anticipated. Injuries hampered Johnson and Jets officials were sometimes left with the impression that his effort was lacking.

The move will not free up lots of cap room for Gang Green – they’ll be saddled with $12MM in dead money versus just $3MM in cap savings. The silver lining, however, is that the Jets can spread his $12MM dead money cap hit by marking him as a post-June 1 release.

The Jets tried to scare up interest in Johnson before the trade deadline last year, but there were no takers. Predictably, there was no market for Johnson in March.

Between the Jets and the Rams, Johnson has earned $70M as an NFL pro.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Release CB Trumaine Johnson

A Jets long-anticipated Jets transaction will commence soon. The Jets have informed Trumaine Johnson he will be released, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports.

The Jets signed Johnson to a monster contract in 2018, but injuries and ineffectiveness have marred the cornerback’s post-Rams career. Johnson’s $11MM 2020 base salary would have become guaranteed on March 20.

This move is not especially advantageous to the Jets, who will eat $12MM in dead money while reaping just $3MM in cap savings. A new CBA being agreed to will allow the Jets to designate Johnson as a post-June 1 release, thus spreading out the cap hit over multiple years. If the players do not ratify the CBA proposal, the Jets will be tagged with that $12MM this year since post-June 1 cuts are not permitted in a CBA’s final year.

Since-fired GM Mike Maccagnan signed Johnson for five years and $72.5MM two years ago. After an appearance on the Forbes list due to his back-to-back franchise tags with the Rams from 2016-17, Johnson intercepted four passes in 10 games with the Jets in 2018 but made just five starts last season. Johnson dealt with a quad injury in 2018 and went on IR midway through last season.

The Jets hoped Johnson reuniting with ex-Rams DC Gregg Williams would reignite the veteran defender, Mehta adds, but nothing of that sort transpired. Pro Football Focus viewed Johnson’s 2019 play as having fallen off considerably compared to his first seven NFL seasons, and Adam Gase benched him during the campaign. The Jets attempted to trade him at last year’s deadline but predictably found no taker for his contract, which contained $34MM in guarantees.

Although Johnson did not make a Pro Bowl with the Rams, he commanded two franchise-tag salaries after the team moved to Los Angeles. However, the Jets’ decision to sign him will go down as another major Jets misstep during Maccagnan’s run. The bulk of the Jets’ major veteran investments under Joe Douglas‘ predecessor have either failed — Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson — or not taken off (Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley).

The Jets are expected to be active in free agency again this year, and cornerback will be one of Gang Green’s goals when the market opens.

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Jets Targeting Pass Rushers

The Jets are seeking some pass-rush help, and they’re eyeing some of the top names on the market. Sources tell Connor Hughes of The Athletic that “the Jets are doing their homework on Jadeveon Clowney” and are among the teams “in on him.” The Jets are also planning to “actively pursue” Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler.

The team could alternatively look to the trade market for help. Hughes writes that the Jets are expected to make a call on Ravens defensive end Matt Judon, who is expected to receive the franchise tag after finishing 2019 with a career-high 9.5 sacks. However, Hughes cautions that the organization may be wary to give up too much draft capital, especially when they’re looking to fill holes via the draft.

Hughes also expects the Jets to be in on a number of offensive lineman, including Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow. We heard yesterday that the organization was planning on pursuing Redskins lineman Trent Williams. The front office could even pursue cornerback James Bradberry, according to the writer.

The Jets will have a whole lot of money to throw at a pass-rusher, as they’re currently sitting with more than $60MM in projected cap space. Hughes notes that the organization could easily move on from the likes of cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, lineman Brian Winters, and others, which would open up an additional $20MM to $27MM in cap space.

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Release Candidate: Trumaine Johnson

The Jets will have some tough decisions to make in the months ahead. Will they part ways with running back Le’Veon Bell, even though that would result in an absurdly high dead money hit? Will they give safety Jamal Adams a top-of-the-market deal, stand pat, or open up the phone lines on trade inquiries, as they did before last year’s trade deadline? And how about free agent wide receiver Robby Anderson, who is gunning for big bucks after posting a so-so stat line?

Those are just some of the issues that need to be addressed by GM Joe Douglas this offseason. However, there are also easier calls to be made, including the future of cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

In 2018, former GM Mike Maccagnan inked Johnson to a five-year, $72.5MM deal with $34MM guaranteed at signing. Previous to that, Johnson performed as one of the league’s better cornerbacks with the Rams across six seasons. In New York, Johnson fell way, way short of expectations.

In his first year with Gang Green, Johnson missed significant time with a quad injury that some Jets staffers believe he could have played through. He did come away with four interceptions in 2018, but that stat doesn’t tell the whole story – Johnson struggled in coverage and looked like a shell of his former self.

Things deteriorated even further in 2019 – Johnson appeared in only seven games before landing on IR in early November. He was also benched for performance reasons and, unsurprisingly, they were unable to find any takers for him at the trade deadline.

Coach Adam Gase was vocal about his frustration with Johnson, but there was no sense in releasing him last year due to his deal. Cutting Johnson in 2019 would have resulted in $24MM in dead money with zero cap relief. This year, they’d still be saddled with $12MM in dead money, and they’d only save $3MM by dropping the 30-year-old, but that’s exactly what the Jets will do, in all likelihood.

The $3MM saved won’t be enough to sign a new starting cornerback, but it’s at least something. Expect Douglas to tack that on to his existing ~$50MM in cap room, a number that could grow even further by cutting vets like guard Brian Winters, cornerback Darryl Roberts, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, and linebacker Avery Williamson.

Jets Place Trumaine Johnson On IR

It looks like the Trumaine Johnson era in New York is coming to an end. The Jets placed Johnson on injured reserve today, as well as receiver Josh Bellamy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Johnson was a monster flop in the Big Apple after signing his massive free agent deal, and as Rapoport writes, “it’s safe to say Johnson has played his last down with the team.” Johnson is set to have $11MM in salary for 2020 become guaranteed in March, so he’ll almost certainly be cut by then. All told, Johnson will have received $34MM to appear in 17 underwhelming games for the Jets. New York apparently tried desperately to trade him at the deadline, but couldn’t find any takers.

After having a solid first six years in the league with the Rams, Johnson inked a five-year, $72.5MM deal last offseason. Things got off to a rocky start, and although he picked off four passes in ten games last year, he didn’t play up to standards. He was benched for a couple of weeks earlier on this season before ultimately regaining his starting role, and he clearly didn’t get along well with the new regime in New York.

Johnson has been graded very poorly by most observers this season, and he missed last week with an ankle injury. Still only 29, he should draw some interest on the open market. Bellamy is a former UDFA who had the occasional moment with the Bears over the past few years. He inked a two-year, $5MM deal with the Jets this offseason, but will finish 2019 with only two catches for 20 yards.

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Jamal Adams, Le’Veon Bell May Be Traded In 2020

The trade deadline has come and gone, and Jamal Adams is still a member of the Jets. That’s largely because New York’s asking price of a first-rounder and two second-rounders for its star safety was too rich for rival clubs, but before the Jets started asking for draft picks, they asked for players.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, when the Cowboys called the Jets to discuss an Adams trade, New York GM Joe Douglas asked about the availability of Dallas guard Zack Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith. Dallas made it clear that neither offensive lineman was available, and the Cowboys’ best offer ended up being a first-round pick and backup corner Anthony Brown. However, as Rapoport observes, Douglas’ initial ask is suggestive of how he plans to construct his roster going forward: from the inside out.

Dallas’ and Baltimore’s interest in Adams was previously reported, though Rapoport says the Jets received double-digit phone calls on the 24-year-old. RapSheet adds that a third team actually put forth the strongest offer, though who that team is and the details of the offer are presently unknown.

But the fact that Adams will be with Gang Green for the rest of the year does not mean that he will be with the club in 2020. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes Douglas will end up dealing Adams prior to the 2020 draft, and Cimini cites Adams’ “overreaction” to the trade rumors as one of the primary reasons for his prediction.

Adams’ post-deadline public comments in which he voiced his frustration and surprise that the Jets would even think about trading him are emblematic of what Cimini deems a me-first mentality that Adams has begun to display, a mentality which also manifested itself in a locker room blowup during halftime of last week’s loss to the Jaguars. Whether one agrees with Cimini’s characterization of these incidents or not, it seems true enough that Adams’ tenure with the Jets could be drawing to a close (especially given that he will be extension-eligible for the first time after this season).

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also hears that Adams could be dealt in 2020, and JLC’s sources suggest that Adams and Le’Veon Bell may be traded at next year’s combine. La Canfora adds that the Jets were eager to move Bell and cornerback Trumaine Johnson at the deadline, but there was little interest in them because of their salaries. And while the Jets will surely not find any takers for Johnson in 2020, other clubs may be willing to take the plunge on Bell, and Adams will remain a hot commodity.

But for what it’s worth, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv believes the Jets should build around Adams, Bell, Sam Darnold, and Quinnen Williams and not subject the club’s fanbase to another teardown. As many have said about the division-rival Dolphins’ rebuild — draft picks are great, but a rebuilding outfit needs core players too — the Jets should not blindly pursue premium draft capital at the expense of their foundational pieces.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Notes: Falcons, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Jets, Redskins, Giants, Eagles, Bills, Packers

Teams continue to ask about Austin Hooper, whose 526 receiving yards sit 11th in the NFL entering Week 8. However, the Falcons have spurned suitors who’ve called about the emerging tight end, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Hooper is in a contract year, but the Falcons believe they have a chance to re-sign him. The Falcons, though, are the team doing the contacting regarding Vic Beasley. Atlanta is shopping its former All-Pro defensive end, who is playing out a $12.8MM fifth-year option. Pass rushers are obviously valuable, but with Beasley’s play having fallen off since that 2016 breakthrough, the return might not be what the Falcons seek.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • The Redskins continue to respond with hard nos when asked about Trent Williams, but Breer adds Josh Norman‘s name has been floated around. With Norman having not lived up to the $15MM-AAV contract he signed in 2016, it would be hard to imagine the Redskins getting much value for the eighth-year cornerback.
  • A cornerback performing better continues to look likelier to stay put. Chris Harris does not expect to be traded, and Troy Renck of Denver7 notes the Broncos are not as motivated to deal their four-time Pro Bowler as they were to ship out Emmanuel Sanders. A second-round pick would likely be necessary here, per Breer. Considering the Broncos’ issues finding corners as of late, dealing Harris would create a massive offseason need in Denver.
  • The Bengals are 0-7, and A.J. Green continues to come up in trade rumors. But the old-school organization isn’t budging. Mike Brown has not signed off on a firesale, Breer adds, instead preferring to provide first-year HC Zac Taylor with a foundation. That project is not going well so far, with the veteran-laden team performing poorly. Cincinnati’s potential trade chips also include franchise sack leaders Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Neither appears to be a departure candidate. Tyler Eifert is a name Breer mentions could be dealt, but the tight end obviously has a significant injury history that would limit a return.
  • As for the expensive New York corners, Janoris Jenkins has generated more interest than Trumaine Johnson. The Giants have shopped Jenkins around some, per Breer, while Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes it would require “a miracle” for a team to take Johnson’s salary off the Jets‘ payroll. Jenkins is signed through 2020, with $5.37MM remaining in 2019 salary.
  • In addition to the Saints exploring receiver additions, the Bills, Eagles and Packers are as well, Breer notes. This could heat up the Robby Anderson market, but Breer adds Browns wideout Rashard Higgins has been discussed in advance of Tuesday’s deadline. The backup is in a contract year. However, Higgins has battled knee issues and has only played in one 2019 game.
  • With Mark Andrews having outproduced Hayden Hurst, the Ravens have received calls on their 2018 top pick. As of now, however, Hurst is not believed to be available, per Breer.

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.