The Los Angeles Rams used the franchise tag for the first time since 2009 by giving it to cornerback Trumaine Johnson who will now have a cap-hit of approximately $14-million in 2016. The issue however, is that the team will now likely be letting their former number one cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, walk and test the free agent market.
That leaves the question, did the Rams make the right decision giving their franchise tag to a player who was their number two cornerback, the franchise tag? The team had to make a decision between Johnson and Jenkins, and in the end, they chose Johnson.
“Since we drafted Trumaine in 2012, he has developed into an integral part of our defense. We look forward to having him with us this season and more to come.” -Les Snead
Jenkins will now test the open market as he believes to be a shut down cornerback that believing himself to be the type of shutdown cornerback that has allowed 22 touchdowns over the past four seasons. Whether or not a team will be willing to give him Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis money is yet to be determined.
Between blown coverages, jumping early on routes, and not willing to always make the tackle, there were some question marks to bring Jenkins back for big money. However, there were also plenty of reasons as with Jenkins’ risks, come reward as he had five touchdowns in his time with the Rams.
Johnson, on the other hand, has allowed just six touchdowns over the last four years and has allowed just one in each of his past two seasons. Last season, he developed into one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks giving the Rams reason to want to bring him back long-term now and then see if they can match Jenkins’ number in free agency.
The Rams had Jenkins, Johnson, Rodney McLeod, and Mark Barron set to hit the open market this year. It’s important that they keep a majority of this secondary in tact if the defense is to take the next step and stay consistent.
They now have one of their guys locked up and with approximately $46-million left over in cap space, they can now focus on the other three as well as other players that they have set to hit the market.
The Rams had a decision to make with Johnson and Jenkins, and they arguable went the better route and chose to pay Johnson the big-time money rather than Jenkins. Seeing what the team does with the rest of the secondary will be something to keep an eye on this offseason.