Johnson will make $16.7 million this season by virtue of the Rams, oddly, franchising him two years in a row rather than executing a long-term deal for him, or, for that matter, rather than signing corner Janoris Jenkins, who left for big money with the Giants as a free agent a year ago.
He will have made $30 million in two years from the perpetually struggling franchise, has the ability to re-enter the market next year as a free agent at the ripe old age of 28 (still pretty ideal), and he, wisely, already signed his franchise tender guaranteeing him next year’s salary.
He is a good, productive player. He is not an All-Pro player. He is not a Pro Bowler. He is not a difference-maker week in and week out. He is not a shut-down guy. And yet he is the highest paid corner in the NFL for 2017.
And I am supposed to believe, at a time when the corner market is full of options in free agency (none of whom require any compensation to sign and several of whom have better resumes than Johnson), teams are calling the Rams dying to take this contract off their hands? Really? Smells like fake news to me.
Would the Rams love to get out of this conundrum? Sure. They’d love to get some value for a good-but-not elite player who, wisely, signed that tag ASAP, binding him to that salary. But what are they going to get for him, especially at that price point? A half-dozen teams will have signed new starting corners by Thursday afternoon, there is a crop coming up in the draft and if you represent Johnson, why the hell would you do a long-term deal with anyone for less than $15 million a year? You wouldn’t. You’d negotiate off the tag.
So, again, where is the logic here? Where is the market and where is the ability to get much of anything in return? Any team that like Johnson enough to trade for him would want him long-term and what’s his motivation to do anything less than a blockbuster deal given he’ll pocket just under $17 million this season no matter what?
The Rams could’ve let him walk rather than pay him the 20 percent raise off last season’s already high salary, and waited for that 2018 compensatory pick to roll in (probably a third if he signs a high-end deal) if they were concerned about compensation. There is no way they’d get more than a third-day draft pick for Johnson now, with his 2017 salary guaranteed at a record level. I don’t see it, but then again I suppose crazy things happen in the league every year.
More on NFL free agency: The favorites to land Mike Glennon
- Still hearing the Bears in the lead for Mike Glennon (not sure anyone is in “second” place if you catch my drift) and they are expected to land corner Stephon Gilmore as well.
- The 49ers will be in on Alshon Jeffrey and the money could get ridiculous on that deal given the player’s injury history and recent suspension.
- Kevin Zeitler will top the guard market. The Colts, Browns and Jaguars are all in that mix.
- Would not be surprised at all if Calais Campbell lands with the Bucs or Jags, with Campbell and safety Tony Jefferson set to leave the Cardinals. The Jets, Browns, Ravens and Redskins are among those heavy in the safety market. Arizona reportedly giving Chandler Jones a new deal and off that franchise tag opens up more cap space for them to operate
- Oh, and did I mention Jacksonville will be active? They are making a strong push for corner A.J. Bouye and are in on safety Barry Church as well (Washington is also pursuing Church).
- In their perfect scenario, the Redskins would swap free agent defensive tackle Chris Baker, who has interest from Jacksonville, Tampa, Denver and others, for free agent tackle Dontari Poe. Poe’s price wont be cheap however, and he could end up opting for a one-year deal in order to hit the market again in 2018, when the defensive tackle class should be weak. The Chiefs will be hard pressed to keep Poe at this point, but Indianapolis, Oakland, Atlanta and others continue to monitor his market.
- If the Bills do walk away from Tyrod Taylor -- and they don’t want to pick up his option -- keep in mind the silly structure they used for this deal in the first place. And the fact that had they just let Taylor play it out last season and then lose him as a free agent (rather than cut him), they wouldn’t picked up a third-round compensatory pick in 2018.
- Is there another team out there besides the Browns who would pay Terrelle Pryor $10 million a year? I’m not totally sold.
- The Seahawks are looking to upgrade their offensive line and their backfield. But it’ll be right player at right price. They are monitoring guards and tackles and like several of them, but won’t be setting the market. They are high on T.J. Lang, but aren’t in a position to go crazy, nor should they. They won’t spend $9 million a year on Ricky Wagner, but there are other tackles would make sense at the right price point. As for running backs, if Adrian Peterson is realistic it’s not out of the question he ends up there, though Seattle is monitoring LeGarrette Blount, Benny Cunningham and others.