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Browns didn’t explore CB Marcus Peters, but they could be all over CB Trumaine Johnson in free agency

Could Cleveland be eyeing one of Gregg Williams’ former cornerbacks in free agency?

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

On Friday, the cornerback market leading into free agency was shaken up in a major way, which could benefit the Cleveland Browns come mid-March. That is because the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to trade CB Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams. Terms of the deal are not yet known, but the deal is expected to go through when the new league year begins on March 14.

With Peters having been a former selection of current Browns GM John Dorsey, many wondered whether Cleveland would be in on him. Originally, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Rams, 49ers, and Browns were the three teams who showed some level of interest in Peters. However, later reports suggested that Cleveland was not interested:

What this does open the door to is for the Browns to make a run at CB Trumanie Johnson in free agency, as Benjamin Allbright of The OBR points out. A third-round pick by the Rams in 2012, the Rams have slapped the franchise tag on him in each of the past two years, earning him $13.95 million in 2016 and then $16.74 million in 2017. By the Rams acquiring Peters, that means Johnson will finally hit free agency. Backup QB Dan Orlovsky gave an unsolicited ringing endorsement on Johnson:

And then, of course, you have the fact that Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was his coach with the Rams from 2014-2016. Johnson’s best year came in 2015, when he started 13 games and logged 71 tackles, 17 passes defended, and 7 interceptions. If you’re looking at consistency, though, here is a nice stat that PFF had back in November 2017:

PFF has him as No. 2 on their list of “top free agents who can make an immediate impact,” right after QB Kirk Cousins at No. 1. Rams S Lamarcus Joyner hits all the high marks on free agency buzz too, but we’ll see if he gets to the open market or not. But when it comes to Johnson, expect the San Francisco 49ers to be a serious contender for him too...and they’ve got the hot young quarterback already in Jimmy Garoppolo, the second most cap space in the NFL, and a much warmer climate.