The team used the franchise tag on him again, keeping him in L.A. at roughly $16.7 million to make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, Rams general manager Les Snead didn't sound ready to hand Johnson a long-term contract until the feeling-out process with new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips plays out.
"He's definitely a viable player, we need him," Snead said. "So now we change coordinators, Wade Phillips. It's a different system than we had last year. But I do know this, Wade values corners. So, I think what we're going to do with Trumaine, because everybody's new, is hey, we need to work together, live together, see if we're all a fit. Does Tru fit Wade? Does Wade fit Tru? And then at that point because it is obvious from the tag number and what corners get paid, a heavy investment and you want to be right with that. Especially when you go long term. And that's because we got a lot of changing parts."
After losing Janoris Jenkins last offseason -- when they decided to tag Johnson the first time -- L.A. couldn't afford to watch another top-rated DB walk out the door. Snead, however, is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Johnson.
If Johnson excels, the Rams will be forced to pony up an even bigger payday. If he struggles in Phillip's system, L.A. will pay a ton of money for a bad season.
Other notes from Snead's combine news conference:
» On Todd Gurley's struggles in 2016:
"It was definitely a sophomore slump," Snead said. "It starts with myself, did we put enough around Todd? It goes to Todd, did he do enough? It goes to the offensive line, to the receivers. It's a we thing. The offense is not just one player. So, that's what this offseason is about, trying to figure out how do we get him back to that -- if we can call it that -- freshman year, that Rookie of the Year?"
» Snead confirmed that the Rams' D would move to a 3-4 under Phillips. The GM noted that could mean targeting different types of players in free agency and the draft.
» Snead dismissed the change in D would have any impact on Aaron Donald's production. Les later noted that the defensive lineman "deserves a raise" and a new contract down the line. Donald is currently under contract through the 2017 season for $1.8 million with a club option for 2018. Locking down the defensive stalwart should be a priority.
» Kenny Britt will hit the open market and it didn't sound like Snead was all that intent on retaining the receiver.
» Snead said he expects "big" things from tight end Tyler Higbee under new coach Sean McVay. The 2016 fourth-round pick had just 11 catches for 85 yards and one TD as a rookie.
» Snead compared quarterback Jared Goff going from college to the NFL like going from "two skies to snowboarding."
"You're going to be able to snowboard at some point, but the first time you go down that mountain it's going to be a little different," Snead said.
Maybe Shaun White can be added to the coaching staff to speed up the process.