The dominoes continue to fall as the NFL offseason moves along.
On Friday another blockbuster trade was agreed upon prior to the official start of the new league year as Kansas City sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams for an undisclosed package of draft picks.
The Browns had what was described as “lukewarm” interest in Peters due to the connection between Peters and general manager John Dorsey as Dorsey was the guy in Kanasas City who drafted him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Cornerback is a huge need for the Browns to address this offseason and Peters would’ve been a huge acquisition but based on things I’ve seen on social media, it’s my belief that Los Angeles is surrendering the 23rd overall pick in that package but that hasn’t been confirmed.
Cleveland obviously wouldn’t have sent a first round pick unless it was a future first round pick because the first or fourth overall picks in this year’s draft is too rich to give up for a guy like Peters who while he has All-Pro talent has some red flags due to character concerns.
Now that the Rams have acquired Peters, this clears the way for Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent and will be the top cornerback available.
The Browns are in a great spot to land his services with having over $110 million dollars in cap space.
Johnson is 28 years old and has been with the Rams organization since they drafted him in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s had a successful career to this point with 18 interceptions and 67 passes deflections over 85 career games.
He’s been franchised the previous two seasons by the Rams making a guaranteed $30.69 million over that span. Last season, he struggled with injuries and didn’t live up to the $16.74 million dollar salary with 65 tackles, 14 pass deflections, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 16 games. Pro Football Focus graded Johnson as the 68th best corner in football for the 2017 season.
Johnson also played under Gregg Williams from 2014-2016 as Williams was the defensive coordinator for the Rams so Johnson is very familiar with the system if he were to choose Cleveland.
The Browns will have some competition for Johnson’s services. The San Francisco 49ers have over $70 million dollars in cap space and also talked to Kansas City about trading for Marcus Peters.
If I was an NFL free agent and was choosing between Cleveland and San Francisco, I’d choose the 49ers. They seem to be heading into the right direction under general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan not to mention that they’ve locked up their potential franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo and can now start to build a team around him.
The one positive Cleveland has in potentially landing Johnson besides the connection with Gregg Williams is the state income tax.
Andrew Hawkins stated a few weeks back on the Thomahawk podcast with Browns left tackle Joe Thomas that free agency is where football players come to get paid. The Browns can not only frontload a deal with more guaranteed money upfront but with the state of Ohio having a state income tax nearly 10% lower than the state of California, Johnson could get more money in his pocket choosing the Browns over the 49ers.
NFL reporter Benjamin Allbright tweeted on Friday that Browns fans should be watching how Johnson’s situation unfolds in the coming weeks.
If the Browns could land one major free agent signing, I’m hoping Johnson is one of those guys. He can address the cornerback position and be that number one option that the team has been lacking for a few years. It also would give the Browns the option with the fourth pick in the draft to look at other players but still not completely rule out drafting a guy like Minkah Fitzpatrick out of Alabama.