THOUSAND OAKS – In these final hours before the NFL draft, as the Rams dissect the list of cornerback prospects, Trumaine Johnson won’t be far from their minds.
It’s complicated. Johnson is the Rams’ top cornerback, they like him and he’s under contract for the 2017 season. On the other hand, Johnson is set to become a free agent after next season, and the Rams, concerned they won’t be able to sign him to an extension, have explored trade possibilities.
A trade now is considered highly unlikely, but should the Rams select a cornerback with their initial draft pick – second round, No. 37 overall – with the proactive thought that they might lose Johnson in 2018?
“Today, he’s a Ram,” General Manager Les Snead said Tuesday. “It’s not necessarily going to affect the draft at all. We’re going to rank the corners from top to bottom, and you can always use more than one or two good corners. His situation won’t affect that. He’s a Ram, and we’re going to go from there.”
Johnson seemed to be an enthusiastic participant during the first day of the Rams’ voluntary veteran mini-camp at Cal Lutheran, and Coach Sean McVay said Johnson “has handled himself like a true pro.”
Johnson politely deflected specific questions about his future and said he has left those matters in the hands of his agent, but Johnson enthusiastically said he wanted to sign an extension with the Rams.
“Of course,” Johnson said. “We’ve got time right now. That’s not my main focus. I’m going to let my agent handle that. In the meantime, I’ll get to know the new guys and get back with the old guys.”
Last month, the Rams applied their franchise tag to Johnson, which tied him to the team for 2017 on a one-year contract worth $16.8 million. The Rams and Johnson still have until July 15 to reach agreement on a new contract, which would void the “franchise” contract Johnson signed.
The Rams, concerned about losing Johnson for nothing, also let other…