Trumaine Johnson was the cornerback apple of many teams' eyes as the NFL free agency signing period approached. The 49ers and Raiders were thought to be favorites to land the FA-to-be and others such as the Colts, Packers, Browns and Saints were said to be possible landing spots.
But "Tru" accepted the Jets' offer to exchange the West Coast for the East and become a talented new addition to the Green & White defensive backfield. Here are six things we didn't know about the man called "Tru":
Promising ReunionJohnson has had a strong NFL career. No Pro Bowls yet, although many thought he should've gone at the end of his 2015 season when he had seven interceptions and 17 pass defenses for the then-St. Louis Rams. It may be a coincidence (we think not) that his DBs coach that year with the Rams was Dennard Wilson. Dennard is now starting his second year as the Jets' secondary coach.
Versatile ... and QuotableJohnson was asked last June if he'd be a "fit" in new DC Wade Phillips' scheme. He said that wasn't a problem:
"I'm a complete corner. I can play man. I can play off. I can play zone. I can play waterboy. I can play anything you want me to play."
Versatility, Sure HandsWe're not saying Johnson is the next two-platoon NFL star but Trumaine has offensive as well as defensive skills. He was recruited to play WR at Montana but was moved to corner his second day of practice. Then-Grizzlies coach Robin Pflugrad said during 2010 spring drills, "We plan to work Trumaine on offense a little more." And Johnson in a Rams video says third-person confidently at a practice: "Tru has the best hands out here."
That was first demonstrated in high school, when he was a wideout with 10 TD catches as a junior and a starting QB with 2,322 total yards as a senior (1,566 passing, 492 receiving, 94 on interception returns, 168 on kickoff returns). The Griz didn't use him much on offense (2 carries, 9 yards, one incomplete pass in '10), but his interceptions were often of the "best hands" variety as he snagged 15 picks at Montana and 18 in six seasons with the Rams.
Two-MaineJohnson has always worn at least one number 2 on his back. He wore that single digit as a football and basketball standout at Edison HS in Stockton, CA, and as Montana's standout corner from 2008-11. NFL uniform rules confine defensive backs to numbers from 20 to 49, so as the St. Louis Rams' third-round pick in the 2012 draft, he went with 22, which he wore all six of his Rams seasons.
We can't project his number with the Jets yet, but with Matt Forte relinquishing 22 upon his retirement announcement earlier this month, it's not hard to see double deuces in Johnson's career with the Green & White.
First Day BirthdayTrumaine Monte Johnson was a New Year's baby, born on Jan. 1, 1990, in Stockton. He joins a short list of Jets who also celebrate or celebrated the same New Year's birthday — T Irv Eatman, DE LaVerne Torczon, LS Tanner Purdum, CB Jamie Henderson and G Harry Galbreath.
He Loves the GameOne thing comes through in researching Johnson: He loves the game of football. On his @trujohnson2 Twitter page he describes himself as "Loyal to the Game". On an @truj2 Instagram post, he writes, "Blessed more than ever to play the game I love!"
And in a story late last season, Johnson explained part of his reason for remaining with the Rams in '17 under new head coach Sean McVay: "The ultimate goal was to win games, and I'm a winner at heart."