Source: Jets to release high-priced CB Trumaine Johnson

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, March 9, 2020

In a long-anticipated move, the New York Jets have informed cornerback Trumaine Johnson that he will be released in the coming days, a league source confirmed Monday.

The Jets must make the transaction by March 20, when Johnson's $11 million salary for 2020 -- guaranteed for injury only -- becomes fully guaranteed.

Uncertainty regarding the proposed collective bargaining agreement could affect the timetable for the decision. Under a new CBA, the Jets can designate Johnson a June 1 cut, which would allow them to spread his salary-cap hit over two seasons -- $4 million in 2020, $8 million in 2021.

Absent a new CBA, the Jets would incur the entire $12 million cap hit in 2020. In that case, they'd save only $3 million by releasing Johnson, whose cap charge is scheduled to be $15 million.

The New York Daily News first reported that Johnson was told of the team's plans to cut him.

Johnson, who turned 30 in January, will be remembered as one of the Jets' worst free-agent signings. Desperate for a shutdown corner, they gave him a five-year, $72.5 million contract in 2018 free agency. The deal included $34 million guaranteed at signing, including a $20 million signing bonus.

The Jets are thin at cornerback -- no proven starters under contract -- but there was never any doubt about their desire to move on from Johnson. For $34 million, the Jets got only 17 games out of him. He missed nine games last season with a pair of ankle sprains and five games in 2018 with a strained quadriceps.

He was a healthy scratch in the final game of the 2018 season because he violated team rules. Johnson quickly fell out of favor with the new coaching staff in 2019, as he was benched in Weeks 2 and 3. He improved his practice habits, according to the staff, and returned to the starting lineup in Week 4.

Despite the injuries and the benching, Johnson managed to intercept five passes in two seasons, including four in 2018 (one returned for a touchdown). But he also hurt the team with ill-timed penalties and lapses in pass coverage that resulted in big plays.

Before joining the Jets, Johnson spent six seasons with the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams. He made 18 interceptions and played the 2016 and 2017 seasons under the franchise tag.

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