On Tuesday, July 24, the St. Louis Rams came to terms on rookie contracts with cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. Jenkins and Johnson are the last two players from the Rams' 2012 draft class to sign with the team.
There was a lot of drama surrounding Jenkins's situation, but in hindsight, I don't think anyone should have doubted that they would eventually strike a deal. After all, what was Jenkins going to do? If he had held out through the summer, it would have hurt his progress as an NFL cornerback. If he made the foolish decision to sit out the entire season and enter the draft in 2013, then his stock would have fallen even further. I doubt any team would have taken him before the fifth round next year.
Jenkins's contract is for close to $5 million for four years with $3.1 million guaranteed. That's not a bad deal for a player whose character issues kept him out of the first round. With the relatively short four-year deal, Jenkins has the chance to earn a massive pay day just as he's entering his prime. Hopefully, the can overcome his past issues and become star that the Rams believe he will be.
As for Johnson, it's a little surprising that he didn't reach a deal with the club earlier than this, but at least he got it taken care of before the veterans reported to training camp. The terms of the contract are unknown at this time, though it has been announced that Johnson's contract is also for four years.
I know most people are excited about Jenkins, and for good reason. He's an outstanding talent who could develop into a Pro Bowl cornerback. Yet I also believe that Johnson could become a star at one of the safety spots. Johnson's size and strength could make him a valuable safety alongside Quintin Mikell in the Rams' defensive backfield. That's something the team hasn't had in a long time.
Overall, I'm excited to see both players finally under contract. Their deals ensure that the Rams won't have any distractions as they enter their first training camp under head coach Jeff Fisher.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson's 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala and Facebook.