Rams' top cornerback Trumaine Johnson expected to hit free agency after 2017 season

Rams' top cornerback Trumaine Johnson expected to hit free agency after 2017 season
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson defended 11 passes and intercepted one pass for the Rams last season. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

As he prepares for his sixth season with the Rams, Trumaine Johnson is the team's top cornerback and highest-paid player.

But apparently he is not the right fit. Not for a new long-term contract anyway.


After General Manager Les Snead said for months that the Rams would wait to see if Johnson was a "fit" for new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, the team on Monday is expected to let pass the NFL's deadline for signing franchise-tagged players to long-term deals.

Johnson, 27, will earn nearly $17 million this season. Unless he and the team reach a last-minute agreement, he will hit the open market in 2018.

Johnson's future had been clouded since March after the Rams tagged him for the second year in a row.

Johnson, who intercepted seven passes in 2015, earned nearly $14 million during a 2016 season in which he intercepted only one.

Snead said at the NFL scouting combine that the Rams, Johnson and Phillips needed to "work together, live together, see if we all fit," before a decision would be made on whether to consummate a new deal.

But the Rams made Johnson available for trade before the NFL draft. After finding no takers, Snead said the Rams would wait until the conclusion of organized-team activity practices in June before making a determination about a new contract.

Trumaine Johnson in the closing moments of the Rams' regular season finale, against the Cardinals on Jan. 1.
Trumaine Johnson in the closing moments of the Rams' regular season finale, against the Cardinals on Jan. 1. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Johnson was present for offseason workouts and the first week of OTAs, but was absent for the second week because of what he later described as a personal situation, not a contract dispute.

He said at the time that he was not bothered by the Rams' use of the term "fit" after five years on the roster. He also said he was a "complete" cornerback.

"I'm controlling what I can control," he said. "When that contract stuff comes up, I'll handle it."

Johnson participated in the remaining OTA workouts and a mandatory minicamp before the Rams broke for the summer.

Phillips, when asked about Snead's comments about Johnson regarding "fit," said at the conclusion of a minicamp that Johnson had "done everything we've asked him to do" through the offseason.

"I think he's a good athlete and he's working hard to get better," Phillips said, "so I don't have any problem with that."

The Rams open training camp on July 29 at UC Irvine.

Johnson, 6 feet 2 and 213 pounds, is the most experienced player in a secondary that also includes cornerbacks Kayvon Webster, E.J. Gaines, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Troy Hill and Mike Jordan among others.


By the end of the season, he will have earned nearly $31 million in two years. And if he plays well, he will be poised to cash in.

Johnson's contract situation was not the only one looming when the Rams finished minicamp.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald sat out OTAs because he wants a new deal. The three-time Pro Bowl selection is scheduled to earn $3.2 million in salary and bonuses this season and about $6.9 million in 2018.

The Rams have said Donald is worthy of a raise and that they were negotiating to get a deal done.

Donald is thought to be seeking a contract that would make him among the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL.

Donald attended the mandatory minicamp in mid-June but did not participate in team drills. He also was not made available to reporters.

Later that month, during a youth football clinic, he said of his contract situation: "I'm just doing my job and just keeping myself how I'm supposed to keep myself, and that will handle itself. It's a fun game but a serious business at the end of the day."

The Rams also have said that linebacker Alec Ogletree was in line for an extension. Ogletree is due to earn about $8.4 million this season, his fifth with the Rams.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein