Richard Sherman availability makes Trumaine Johnson trade difficult

LOS ANGELES -- The Seattle Seahawks have been unconventionally open about the possibility of trading star cornerback Richard Sherman, a three-time first-team All-Pro who, at 29, is still considered one of the game's best at his position.

As if finding a taker for Trumaine Johnson weren't difficult enough.

The Los Angeles Rams were reportedly shopping Johnson on the very first day of the legal tampering period, and even then his market seemed limited. Johnson's exorbitant price -- $16.742 million on his second franchise tag -- didn't match his level of performance. And teams with needs at cornerback were able to turn to a free-agent market that was headlined by A.J. Bouye, Stephon Gilmore, Logan Ryan and Morris Claiborne. The top of that market has dried up, but so has the number of teams in need of an experienced cornerback.

A recent ESPN piece highlighted the greatest need for each of the 32 teams, and only four were seen as in need of help at cornerback. None of those teams -- the Bills, the Eagles, the Cardinals and, strangely, the Seahawks -- have enough salary-cap space to take on an expensive corner. And others who do would probably find a more appealing alternative with Sherman, who is under one more year of control than Johnson and comes at a cheaper rate.

Sherman, who has yet to miss a game in his six-year career, will cost $13.6 million against the cap in 2017 and $13.2 million in 2018, with only $2.2 million in dead money for the latter year. He has 30 interceptions since joining the NFL in 2011, 10 more than anybody else at his position. And last year Pro Football Focus graded him 13th among 111 qualified cornerbacks.

Johnson was 25th.

Trading Johnson would've ideally netted the Rams a high-round pick in the upcoming draft, in which they have only one selection among the top 68. But they are in desperate need of depth in their secondary, even after signing Kayvon Webster, so they were always perfectly fine with keeping him, too. Besides, the Rams have already lost way too much from their secondary. Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod departed via free agency last offseason. T.J. McDonald left this offseason. And next year Maurice Alexander, Lamarcus Joyner, E.J. Gaines and Cody Davis are set to join Johnson as unrestricted free agents, the quality depth behind them nearly nonexistent.

Part of the reason the Rams didn't sign Johnson to a long-term extension this offseason was because they first wanted to see if he would be a fit under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The two sides still have until July 15 to get something done, and the Rams haven't ruled that out.

The offseason program, which begins Monday, could give them a better feel for whether a new deal makes sense.

"Wade values corners," Rams general manager Les Snead said from the scouting combine. "So I think what we're going to do with Trumaine is, because everyone is new, we need to work together, live together, see if we all fit. Does Tru fit Wade? Does Wade fit Tru? Because it's obvious by the tag number and what corners get paid, it's a heavy investment, and you want to be right. Especially when you go long-term."