Trumaine Johnson won’t be leaving Southern California.
It’s the second year running that Johnson has been tagged, leaving the defender to play out the 2017 campaign for a cool $16.8 million — making him the highest-paid cornerback league-wide.
Johnson also becomes the first defensive back to be tagged in back-to-back seasons since Charles Woodson in 2004 and 2005, per NFL Research.
It’s not a surprising move by the Rams, but general manager Les Snead was noncommittal when asked about tagging Johnson in January, calling it a “big decision” toward building a defense for new coordinator Wade Phillips.
“Wade, like a lot of (defensive coordinators), likes good players on the outside,” Snead told The Los Angeles Times. “Trumaine fits that category … Trumaine is a larger guy with good ball skills and all things like that.”
Johnson struggled at times last season, allowing an 83.7 passer rating in coverage, which ranked 61st in the NFL. His interceptions dropped from seven in 2015 to just one last season, while Johnson allowed eight touchdowns, tied for eighth most in the league.
Still, the arrival of Phillips made this something of a no-brainer for the Rams. The longtime defensive aide historically gets the best out of his cornerbacks and likely made it clear to the front office that losing Johnson would have been an ugly beginning for the new coaching staff.
With 27 starts over the past two seasons, Johnson — a third-round pick in the 2012 draft — is a mostly reliable cover man who the Rams couldn’t afford to let walk out the door. Now that won’t be a problem.