Rams cut cap space nearly in half almost a week before the FA period begins
When they stared into the abyss, it appears general manager Les Snead and the Rams front office blinked. The franchise placed the franchise tag on Trumaine Johnson, making him the highest paid cornerback in the league with a $16.7 million salary this year. This, for a player who didn’t even grade in the Top 15 at his position last season.
The Rams went from having around $40 million in cap space to about $23 million, with plenty of holes to fill.
Speaking at the NFL scouting combine, Snead seemed to grandstand when speaking on Johnson’s tag for the second year in-a-row; paying him a combined total of more than $30 million.
“He’s definitely a viable player, we need him,” Snead said, according to NFL reporter Kevin Patra. “So now we change coordinators, Wade Phillips. It’s a different system than we had last year. But I do know this, Wade values corners.
Snead said although the Rams needed corners, a position Phillips apparently values, the team needs to figure out is if Johnson fits into Wade’s defensive scheme.
“So, I think what we’re going to do with Trumaine, because everybody’s new, is hey, we need to work together, live together, see if we’re all a fit. Does Tru fit Wade? Does Wade fit Tru? And then at that point, because it is obvious from the tag number and what corners get paid, a heavy investment and you want to be right with that.
Especially when you go long term. And that’s because we got a lot of changing parts.”
Instead of getting shopping for a corner in free agency, they dolled out $16.7 million for a guy they hope is a good fit for their defense?
Snead calls Trumaine Johnson “a heavy investment.” Alludes to season perhaps being a one-year test under new DC Wade Phillips.
— Joe Curley (@vcsjoecurley) March 2, 2017
The problems keep piling up
You wouldn’t know it from whatever the hell Snead said during his press conference, but the Rams made a terrible mistake.
A few days ago, ProFootballSpot detailed why the team would be in a bad position regardless of what they chose to do with Johnson. Make no mistake; one poison was more preferred than the other and that poison was the one involving Johnson testing free agency.
The Rams are in need of top players, and they gave most of their cap space to someone who was not a top player last year. In fact, the Rams just made a deal no one in the NFL would make. Essentially, Johnson is playing on a 2-year/$30.6 million contract.
Johnson took a swan dive in 2016, ranked 27th among all corners. The Rams paid a guy who made one interception last year $16.7 million.
I don’t get spending 16 mil on Rams DC Trumaine Johnson–let him be a free agent and then decide. Which NFL team would pay him that? None.
— michael lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) March 1, 2017
Snead panicked. He already lost Janoris Jenkins to walk away from the team via free agency, and he was afraid the same thing would happen with Trumaine Johnson. Instead of finding another solution, Snead aimed for the short-term fix and “solved” his problem with another problem.
Can Snead be trusted to do his job?
Snead said the Rams are “definitely planning to be active” in free agency, but saying and doing couldn’t be more different in this situation. Active, in the Rams’ case, may just be filling position vacancies with bodies.
The Rams are in need of a wide receiver, yet Snead felt fine letting Kenny Britt walk. Britt had a career-year in 2016 and was the best receiver on the team since his arrival in 2014.
The decision to tag Johnson is troubling because we can already predict the trickle effect. If Snead botched this situation up, what’s stopping him from botching the retention of Aaron Donald when the 2017 season is finished? What’s stopping him from allowing the best player in the league from walking away? Another franchise tag?
Then Johnson would walk away, that is if he hasn’t locked him into a long-term deal by then. History says he won’t.
Snead is making life more difficult for his coaching staff. Despite their credentials, you can only do so much with the ingredients you are given. If things don’t smell sweet soon, it will be Snead who is taken out of the kitchen.