NEW YORK — The Jets have locked down their shutdown cornerback.
Former Rams star Trumaine Johnson signed a five-year, $72.5 million contract on Friday, boosting New York’s improved secondary.
The 28-year-old Johnson, arguably the top free agent at his position, spent his first six seasons with the Rams and had 18 interceptions while establishing himself as one of the best cover cornerbacks in the NFL.
His signing gives Todd Bowles’ defense an unquestioned No. 1 cornerback — and he’ll certainly be paid like one of the league’s best. The deal, which Pro Football Talk first reported included $34 million guaranteed at signing, makes Johnson’s contract one of the biggest in franchise history.
“It’s exciting. I was speechless when I finally gave my agent the green light,” Johnson told the team’s website . “It’s the Big Apple. New chapter, new beginnings and I get to add to this already great defense.”
Morris Claiborne, who was the Jets’ top cornerback last season, hit free agency but will return to New York on a one-year deal. The sides agreed to a contract late Thursday night.
Johnson and Claiborne will combine with second-year safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye to form one of the most promising secondaries in the league. That comes after New York finished a mediocre 21st in the NFL in pass defense.
Johnson was a third-round pick out of Montana in 2012 and established himself as a solid starter in his second year in the NFL. His breakout season came in 2015, when he had a career-high seven interceptions.
The Rams used the franchise tag on Johnson the last two offseasons. He posted a farewell to the Rams on his Instagram account Monday , signaling that he would be leaving the team with which he had spent his entire NFL career.
“The last two years, I’ve been tagged,” Johnson told newyorkjets.com. “It’s my first time going through this process. It’s quite an experience. You lose sleep and your agent is calling you every five minutes. But it worked out and I’m happy to be a Jet.”
On Friday, he posted a note on Instagram signaling his arrival to the Big Apple : “Landing Soon NYC! #JetWay.” The accompanying photo featured Johnson with the left side of his body in a Rams uniform and the Los Angeles skyline in the background, with the right side in a Jets uniform with the New York City skyline behind him.
Johnson’s man-to-man coverage ability makes him a valuable addition to the Jets, where he will again work with secondary coach Dennard Wilson — the Rams’ defensive quality control coach from 2012-14 and Johnson’s position coach from 2015-16.
“I was with him in St. Louis and two years ago in LA,” Johnson said. “He’s very passionate about his work and that’s what I love about him. Coach Bowles is here, too, and I am familiar with him. Coast to coast, California to New York and it’s going to be fun out here.”
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.