Trumaine Johnson, the Jets' $72 million man: 'I'm a game-changer'

Trumaine Johnson had three interceptions over the past two seasons after a career-best seven in 2015. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

For the amount of money he's getting, Trumaine Johnson must be better than good. He must be a shutdown cornerback. He must be something close to Darrelle Revis 1.0.

"I'm a game-changer," Johnson said Thursday, speaking to the media for the first time since he signed with the New York Jets. "I'm a playmaker. I bring leadership to the team. I'm big. I'm fast. I used to be a receiver if you go back to college, so my hands have always been strong for me."

Desperate for a CB1, the Jets signed Johnson to one of the biggest contracts in franchise history: five years, $72.5 million, including $34 million guaranteed at signing. Only Revis ($39 million in 2015) and Muhammad Wilkerson ($37 million in 2016) received larger guarantees from the Jets.

"No pressure at all," Johnson said. "I know what I can do. I know what I can bring to the game. I've been confident all my life. I love winning -- I really love to win -- and I can't wait to get started with this defense."

Johnson said he loves football so much that he'd "play this game for free. Money doesn't really matter." Heck, the Jets could've saved a lot of money on the signing bonus ($20 million) if they knew that.


Johnson will be a good fit from a scheme standpoint (he excels in press-man coverage), and he should feel comfortable because he already knows his position coach, Dennard Wilson, a former Los Angeles Rams assistant. That, Johnson said, is one reason why he picked the Jets after six seasons with the Rams.

Johnson will be paired with Morris Claiborne on the outside, with Buster Skrine in the slot. That could change, though, because the Jets visited with Buffalo Bills free agent E.J. Gaines. If Gaines signs, it could be curtains for Skrine, who is entering the final year of his contract and has a cap charge of $8.5 million.

Asked if he and Claiborne could be the top cornerback tandem in the league, Johnson replied, "Why not? Why not? I'm going to hold him accountable and I know he's going to hold me accountable."

Johnson, 28, was brilliant in 2015 (seven interceptions), a contract year. That resulted in the franchise tag. He got tagged again in 2017. His grades were solid, but not elite, according to Pro Football Focus. The Rams decided to let him hit the market, opting for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib as replacements.

For the first time since his rookie year of 2012, Johnson has a long-term contract.

"It's good to have security -- finally," he said. "That's been one of my focuses, trying to get a long-term contract. I'm happy the Jets took a chance on me."