Trumaine Johnson

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.

East Notes: Cowboys, Manning, Wake, Jets

Terrance Williams landed on IR after not being listed on the Cowboys‘ injury report going into Week 4. The veteran wide receiver appeared on Dallas’ Week 5 injury list, however, after a personal issue kept him out of the Cowboys-Lions game. Now, both he and Travis Frederick — also placed on IR Saturday — are out until at least the Dec. 9 game against the Eagles. As for Williams’ status with the Cowboys, it’s possible he’s played his last game with the team considering his diminished role (39 snaps in three games). For now, the team is sticking by the embattled receiver, who may face a suspension for his offseason car accident. Williams is under contract through the 2020 season. It would cost the Cowboys ($2.5MM in dead money) more to cut him than it would save them by shedding that contract in 2019, however.

With him, there’s a suspension looming out there that might or might not happen,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Friday during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (via Pro Football Talk). “He does have some things after coming off that foot injury, which happens. When you have a foot injury, sometimes you rush it back, and you’re not quite there. And then just personal and general, some things that maybe are holding him back right now. I just think it’s a work in progress with him. We think a lot of him. He’s a fighter and competitor, we just got to get him right.”

Here’s the latest from the East divisions, shifting to a Dallas rival:

  • Eli Manning‘s play has apparently drawn scrutiny from Giants decision-makers. The 15th-year starter has not had much success down the field this season, frequently checking the ball down. “Growing frustration” has emerged with Manning’s issues in this area, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News notes. Odell Beckham Jr., during a recent interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Leonard), also questioned why Manning isn’t making more downfield throws. “How come we can’t throw the ball for more than 20 yards?” Beckham asked Anderson, rhetorically. “How come we don’t attempt or try to throw the ball for more than 20 yards? Those are questions that we have to figure out.” Manning’s only completed nine 20-plus-yard passes this season, and just six of those traveled 20-plus yards through the air. Manning is completing 74 percent of his passes.
  • Josh Doctson suffered a heel injury during practice earlier in the week and is questionable for the Redskins‘ game against the Saints, per ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter). He did not practice Saturday, which doesn’t bode well for the third-year wideout’s status for Monday night. Maurice Harris will start in Doctson’s place if he’s unable to go, Jay Gruden said.
  • Trumaine Johnson managed a limited practice on Thursday but did not participate Friday because of a quadriceps injury. The Jets‘ top cornerback is out for their Week 5 tilt against the Broncos. Johnson was available and in the starting lineup for each of Gang Green’s first four games, so this will be an adjustment for the 1-3 Jets.
  • The Dolphins will be without Cameron Wake on Sunday. Wake’s knee-related absence will bring second-year defensive end Charles Harris into the lineup opposite Robert Quinn, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Miami entered the season quite deep at end but will be without Wake, William Hayes (IR) and Andre Branch this week. Wake did not travel with the team to Cincinnati.

Reaction To Brandin Cooks Trade

A year after acquiring him from the Saints, the Patriots shipped wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to the Rams in exchange for first- and sixth-round picks. Let’s take a look at some of the reaction to and fallout from the blockbuster deal:

  • Before trading him to Los Angeles, the Patriots engaged in extension talks with Cooks, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. However, those discussions stalled as the two sides were simply too far apart. Cooks is scheduled to earn $8.459MM in 2018 under the terms of his fifth-year option, but he’s likely looking for at least $14MM annually on a new deal. The Rams, for their part, have reportedly already expressed interest in extending Cooks’ contract, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Los Angeles is “intent” on doing so. Florio, however, indicates there is as of yet no timeline for a long-term pact to get done.
  • The Rams and Patriots had discussed a possible Cooks trade for more than a month, well before Los Angeles ever contacted the Giants regarding fellow wideout Odell Beckham Jr., according to Schefter (Twitter link). Los Angeles preferred Cooks, and the price tag — New York is reportedly looking for at least two first-round picks in exchange for OBJ — likely played a role in that stance. Talks between the Patriots and Rams heated up on Monday when head coaches Bill Belichick and Sean McVay worked at the same coaching clinic, and those talks ultimately led to a trade on Tuesday, per Schefter (Twitter link).
  • Los Angeles finally acquired Cooks on Tuesday after attempting to land him from the Saints last year, as Rams general manager Les Snead tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com. The Rams did not hold a first-round pick a season ago while the Patriots did, allowing New England to make the better offer for Cooks. Los Angeles, meanwhile, discussed a deal involving then-franchise-tagged cornerback Trumaine Johnson, but the talks never gained traction. For what it’s worth, the Rams actually tried to trade Johnson twice in 2017: once for Cooks, and once in exchange for a second-round pick, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • The Patriots never viewed Cooks as a true No. 1 wide receiver, per Rapoport (Twitter link), and quarterback Tom Brady is “not sad” about the trade. While Cooks topped 1,000 yards receiving in his lone New England campaign, he wasn’t a perfect fit for the Patriots’ offense, says Rapoport. Theoretically, New England could shift back to a more horizontal offense based around incumbent receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan now that Cooks is no longer in town.
  • Although the Rams have now eschewed a hypothetical Beckham trade in favor of acquiring Cooks, the “frenzy” surrounding the mercurial Giants receiver doesn’t figure to subside, as Ralph Vacchiano of SNY writes. Still, a Beckham deal remains “highly unlikely,” as Los Angeles’ payment for Cooks doesn’t come anywhere close to what New York would want in exchange for Beckham.

Extra Points: Panthers, Broncos, Cravens, Jets, Titans

Labeled as a frontrunner in the bidding to become the new Panthers owner, businessman Ben Navarro will make a visit to the team’s facilities next week, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports (Twitter link). Person also notes another suitor, Alan Kestenbaum, was in on Wednesday.

A vote on a new owner is expected to take place during late-May meetings in Atlanta, according to David Newton of ESPN.com, who adds a reported sale price of $2.5 billion could potentially be a bit inflated. The last franchise that was sold, the Bills in 2014, went for $1.4 billion.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Navarro is already being vetted by the NFL. The South Carolina businessman is the founder of Sherman Financial, but some owners have had concerns about how Navarro made his money.

Navarro and Kestenbaum are joined by Steelers minority owner and hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper as the perceived top contenders to acquire the franchise. The reported sale price has already helped one potential suitor, Michael Rubin, withdraw his name from the running. Rubin’s group reportedly included Sean “Diddy” Combs and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Thanks to a video produced by Sports Illustrated, we have some insights into the offers received by cornerback Malcolm Butler before he agreed to sign with the Titans. Early on, the Bears pitched him on a three-year, $30MM deal while the Texans offered a one-year contract (value unknown). It seems that Tennessee greatly outbid the other suitors after signing him to a five-year, $61.25MM deal with $24MM fully guaranteed.
  • For their offseason so far, the Jets have received a grade of B- from ESPN’s Rich Cimini. Considering the team whiffed in its pursuit of Kirk Cousins, that’s not a bad grade to receive. Cimini cites, among other things, the team’s addition of Trumaine Johnson as the team’s most significant offseason signing so far.
  • Su’a Cravens, who was acquired by the Broncos from the Redskins earlier this week, told Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post he wanted to play for a team that wanted him. “I can tell that Denver actually wanted me on the team. It wasn’t just, ‘This is smart for our team,” he said. Cravens sat out the entire 2017 season as a member of the Redskins. “I never felt like I could be myself with the Redskins. It’s a blessing obviously to be drafted by the Redskins and I will always thank them for giving me my opportunity. But I just think after my rookie year when I had those injuries, I just felt like things kind of changed.

AFC Contract Details: Butler, Johnson, Bridgewater

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

Contract Details: Brees, Butler, T. Johnson

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Jets To Sign Trumaine Johnson

The Jets have agreed to sign free agent cornerback Trumaine Johnson, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The deal is estimated to be worth $15MM a year, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

Plenty of teams had interest in the former Rams cornerback, including the Browns, Cowboys, and Raiders. It’s not all that surprising that Johnson was such a popular name, as the 28-year-old was listed as the top cornerback (No. 8 overall) in PFR’s ranking of the top-50 free agents. While the Jets hadn’t been directly connected to Johnson, previous reports indicated that the organization was looking to add two starting cornerbacks this offseason.

The 2012 third-round pick had spent his entire six-year career with the Rams organization. Johnson had another productive campaign in 2017, compiling 65 tackles, 14 passes defended, and two interceptions in 16 games (five starts). Pro Football Focus was underwhelmed by the performance last season, ranking him 68th among 120 eligible cornerbacks. However, Johnson was graded as a top cornerback in both 2015 and 2016.

Johnson will presumably slide atop the Jets cornerback depth chart, and he’s slated to start opposite Buster Skrine. The organization will have to make a decision on some of their cornerbacks, as they’re currently rostering eight other players at the position, including Darryl RobertsJuston Burris, Derrick Jones, and Rashard Robinson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Interested In Several Big-Name FAs

The Browns took on some more salary last week by adding Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, but the team is still loaded with cap space. And the John Dorsey-led operation plans to be active this week.

Nate Solder is on the Browns’ radar as a possible Joe Thomas replacement, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. While Thomas hasn’t announced his retirement, a decision on whether he will return in 2018 is expected soon.

Additionally, the trade for Damarious Randall won’t preclude Cleveland from seeking top-end cornerback talent. The Browns will pursue Bashaud Breeland, Cabot reports, and a Trumaine Johnson/Gregg Williams reunion could well be something the team considers.

The Browns are targeting big-name corners not just because they have a need for younger talent there but because they are going to play Randall as a free safety, per Cabot. Randall has not played safety yet in the NFL, but the Browns evidently view that as a worthwhile adjustment for their new defensive back.

Terrelle Pryor remains on the Browns’ radar, per Cabot. They’ve been linked to him this offseason and tried to reacquire him from the Redskins at the trade deadline last year. Hue Jackson remains a Pryor backer. Pryor’s market may not be what it was a year ago, however, after a rough season in Washington. Cabot adds that agent Drew Rosenhaus didn’t think it was wise for Pryor to be tied down at $8.5-$9.5MM per year. It would be incredibly surprising if Pryor signs for around that amount this year.

Cabot adds the Browns will likely go after Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins as well. Robinson is a top Browns target, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Interested In CB Trumaine Johnson

The Cowboys are among the clubs with interest in free agent cornerback Trumaine Johnson, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com.

Johnson is the premier cornerback scheduled to hit the open market next week, and he’s arguably the best defensive free agent on the board overall. Therefore, it should come as no surprise if the 28-year-old is able to land $12-13MM annually on his next contract, and that figure could a be problem for Dallas. The Cowboys currently project to have just $697K in cap space when free agency opens on March 14, and while they could increase that total by cutting veterans such as wide receiver Dez Bryant, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and tight end James Hanna, or by working out an extension for guard Zack Martin, Johnson would likely be a tight squeeze.

Dallas fielded a middle-of-the-pack defense in 2017, as the club ranked eighth in yards per attempt allowed, 21st in passing DVOA, and 28th in passer rating allowed. After allowing Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr to walk during last year’s free agent period, and subsequently releasing their own signee in Nolan Carroll, the Cowboys allowed youth to take over in their secondary. Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods, and Chidobe Awuzie are each age-24 or younger and played at least 300 defensive snaps a year ago.

Johnson would give the Cowboys a true No. 1 corner, but not only will he be expensive, he’ll garner interest from a number of clubs. The Rams don’t figure to re-sign Johnson after acquiring fellow cornerback Marcus Peters from the Chiefs last month, but the Raiders and 49ers have already been mentioned as possible free agent suitors.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.