The biggest signing of free agency for the New York Jets was easily cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Early expectations are extremely good for Johnson who will be their No. 1 cornerback.
With the 2018 NFL Draft now just days away, focus is locked solely on who the New York Jets will select with the No. 3 overall pick, or perhaps in better words, which quarterback the team will select. And while that decision will likely have a long-lasting impact on the Jets, it’s important to remember that the team has already made many beneficial moves this offseason, most notably signing free agent cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
Following a 2017 season that saw the Jets finish at a lackluster 5-11 and in last place in the AFC East, it was clear that the team had many areas to improve on with one being in the secondary. With rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye providing a much-needed spark at the safety positions, the future appears to be bright for the Jets defense, but the cornerback position still needed to be addressed.
And addressing the position is exactly what general manager Mike Maccagnan and company did, as the Jets went out and signed Johnson, who was widely considered to be the most talented cornerback on the market. He agreed to a five-year/$72.5 million contract that included a $20 million signing bonus and $45 million in guaranteed money.
Although the deal is quite a lucrative one, it could be argued that it was a warranted one, as Johnson is a high-level talent. In fact, the Los Angeles Rams placed a franchise tag on him prior to both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. And he performed well in both of those seasons, as he totaled 57 total tackles, one interception and 11 passes deflected in 2016 and 65 total tackles, two interceptions and 14 passes deflected in 2017.
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With that being said, the expectations for Johnson as a Jet are quite clear, as he will be expected to not only continue to play at a high level, but to increase his production as well, while serving as a No. 1 cornerback for the Green and White.
However, it’s interesting to take a deeper look, aside from the obvious, into what the Jets will be hoping for from Johnson and what type of impact he can possibly make on the team.
First off, aside from being tasked with locking down an opposing team’s top wide receiver, Johnson will provide the Jets with an opportunity to maximize defensive potential with the personnel available. Since signing on with the team in 2015, head coach Todd Bowles hasn’t had the defensive talent to run the defensive scheme he’s hoped to implement, which is an aggressive approach that includes outside cornerbacks pressing in man coverage and allowing pass rushers and linebackers to blitz often.
Now, however, Bowles is one step closer to being able to put his proven defensive plan of attack in motion. With Johnson on the field, Morris Claiborne will no longer be relied upon to serve as the team’s No. 1 cornerback. He can now move to the No. 2 spot, where he’s likely better suited, and he and Johnson will have the ability to serve as a dangerous tandem. Buster Skrine can now also move back to his natural position at the nickel back.
It is important to note, however, that the Jets are still in need of a legitimate pass rusher. Regardless, the signing of Johnson opens a lot of doors for Bowles and his defense. Not only does he have an expected No. 1 cornerback, but he has the ability run his defense how he’s hoped to over the last few years.
Expectations are high for Johnson and the pressure will likely be on him to perform. Only time will tell to see if he does just that but by the looks of it, he will likely not miss a beat in his first season with the Jets.