For a team in the market for a No. 1 cornerback, the Colts may have found the answer to their prayers after the recent transactions around the NFL. It was announced yesterday that the Kansas City Chiefs will be trading their All-Pro corner Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams for an unannounced bundle of draft picks.
Not only did this change the home for the 2015 Defensive Rookie of the Year, but almost ensures that the Rams will be moving on from their own starting cornerback, Trumaine Johnson. The Rams have used two consecutive franchise tags on the 2012 third-round pick from the University of Montana and, with safety Lamarcus Joyner expected to be franchise-tagged this time around, Johnson will head to the open market for the first time in his career. And for the Colts, bringing in the hard-hitting corner is just what they need to bolster their secondary.
After cutting ties with Vontae Davis during the season the Colts have zero cornerbacks under contract with more than three years of NFL experience. And, with Rashaan Melvin and Pierre Desir also hitting the free agent market, the Colts could lose out on their top two players at the position.
Enter Trumaine Johnson, a six-year veteran with over 280 tackles and 18 interceptions in his time with the Rams. The peak of his young career came in 2015 when he hauled in a career high seven interceptions and 58 tackles in just 13 games and he’s fresh off a year with two interceptions, 13 pass deflections and 57 tackles. While his numbers have reduced since his 2015 season, Johnson has been extraordinary in press-man coverage and gave up only 43 yards all last year.
With hints of the new defensive scheme under Matt Eberflus switching to a Tampa 2 coverage, Johnson is the physical corner that Eberflus needs to jam the receivers at the line and force an inside release. Not only would Johnson help in the passing game, but Johnson is also one of the best tackling corners in the game — a necessity if running cover 2 against the run.
The only force acting against this signing is the contract that Johnson could demand. Spotrac.com has a market value estimation of a five-year contract with an average annual salary of $13.6 million for Johnson. Not only would that be the longest contract GM Chris Ballard has doled out in his tenure, but would also be the highest average salary paid out as well. Ballard knows the worth of free agents and has the patience to not overspend in just one offseason. While he did sign a Colts-record 10 free agents last offseason, only Jabaal Sheard and Johnathan Hankins have an average salary of over $8 million.
If Ballard does choose to roll out the red carpet for Johnson, he’s worth every penny and can become the No. 1 corner the Colts have been searching for. If he isn’t wearing the horseshoe next year, it’s because his market value is too inflated in the eyes of Ballard and the general manager is not yet prepared to tie unnecessary money in talent that isn’t home-grown.
Will Trumaine Johnson be a Colt after free agency?
This poll is closed
Yes. His age, fit in the defense and talent make him a necessity this offseason.
No. His contract expectancy and decline since 2015 makes signing him too risky.