Cornerback Trumaine Johnson has played the last two seasons for Los Angeles under the franchise tag. A third season under the franchise tag is unlikely.
General manager Les Snead said before the season began the Rams wanted to see how Johnson would fit within new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' scheme before making that long-term commitment. And now that the 2017 season is complete, Snead told reporters on Wednesday he can "definitely" see a scenario where Johnson returns for 2018 and beyond.
"Again, it was a new defense and new coverage philosophy from Wade. And that was one of the reasons, 'OK, do we pay a corner that not sure [how he fits]?'" Snead said. "But, obviously, he fit in, played an important role."
Johnson played in all 16 regular-season games in 2017, starting the first 15. He led the team with 14 pass breakups, and recorded two interceptions — one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Cornerback Kayvon Webster's Achilles injury also could raise the urgency to get a deal done with Johnson. Snead admitted Webster suffered an injury that can have a difficult recovery process. That said, L.A. is anticipating Webster will return healthy, though the club does not want to rush it with him.
"I think with him, you know he's going to be here. And we know how he played before," Snead said of Webster. "The goal is to get him as healthy as possible so whenever he returns — it's a long season — that he's dialed in, ready to go and not necessarily susceptible to doing it again."
But Johnson is just one of many free agents the Rams have heading into the 2018 offseason. And Snead said there's a plan in place for Los Angeles to discuss all of its players in the coming weeks.
"What we're going to do is take a few weeks off, come back right after the Super Bowl and that week we'll really sit down — just like we did last year — with the coaching staff and we'll go through, in terms of individual players, where they fit. And all those things," Snead said. "Are they a part of the future? Are they not? And it's not necessarily that it's in those conversation too is whether somebody is added or subtracted. It's hey if someone's on your roster, hey, how do we get them better? Can we actually do that? Is there plan to do it? And all those things.
"I think during that week we'll solve a lot of the riddles," Snead added. "But I do know this, it's going to be a busy offseason in terms of that."