When the New York Jets signed cornerback Trumaine Johnson to a five-year, $72.5 million contract this past offseason, the organization was certainly expecting him to perform like an elite level No. 1 cornerback, but that hasn’t been the case.
New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan had quite a busy offseason prior to the 2018 season and aside from drafting rookie quarterback Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in last April’s NFL Draft, his biggest acquisition was undoubtedly signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
And although the Jets dished out a large chunk of money to land Johnson, the deal, at first glance, seemed to make sense. After all, Johnson was a top cornerback in 2017, playing for the Los Angeles Rams and totaling 65 tackles, 14 pass deflections, and two interceptions.
He wasn’t just a one-hit wonder either, as he had essentially performed well for the Rams each year since being drafted by the team in 2012. 2015, for example, represented a tremendous year for the now 28-year-old, as he finished with 71 tackles, 17 pass deflections, and seven interceptions. A stat line like that one is what earned Johnson his contract with the Jets.
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Those impressive numbers have not transferred over to the 2018 campaign, however, as Johnson has totaled just 21 tackles, two pass deflections, and one interception thus far.
Sure, he missed five games due to a nagging injury, but even when he’s been on the field, he hasn’t necessarily impressed, as he’s given up multiple big plays after blowing assignments in coverage.
Another interesting stat to note is that the Jets defense as a whole has actually performed a bit better without Johnson as opposed to with him.
Prior to the Jets’ Week 12 matchup against the New England Patriots, the unit had allowed 26.6 points per game on average and 246.6 passing yards per game on average with Johnson in the starting lineup. With Johnson sidelined, however, the unit allowed 24.8 points per game on average and 238.6 passing yards per game on average.
Against the Patriots, the Jets’ defense allowed 27 points and 283 passing yards. Johnson, who started, totaled five tackles and one tackle for loss. And of course, there are other factors that come into play when looking at the unit’s performances with and without Johnson, but it remains a notable stat nonetheless.
When taking a deeper look into Johnson’s performance throughout 2018 thus far, it’s also important to analyze why his production may be down, although there’s no sure answer. The injury he’s dealt with could certainly be a factor. Perhaps its hindered him in ways unknown to the public and when he’s fully healthy, he’ll return to form.
Also, perhaps he just hasn’t clicked with Todd Bowles’ system just yet. That may not matter if Bowles ends up being fired after the season, but it’s possible that Johnson could improve with a better understanding of the system he’s being asked to perform in.
Whatever the case may be, however, the reality remains clear: Johnson has certainly not lived up to the massive contract he was given this past offseason. That could change now that he’s returned from injury, but if he doesn’t improve as the weeks go on, his signing could end up being a huge misfire by Maccagnan.