Bengals’ potential Trae Waynes replacement: Trumaine Johnson
The first player on this list, Trumaine Johnson, should be the Bengals’ first priority if they dip their toes into the cornerback market. With 8 years of NFL experience under his belt, the former Los Angeles Rams and New York Jets corner could be a great substitute for Trae Waynes.
Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor has gotten a firsthand look at Johnson when he was on the Rams’ coaching staff in 2017. During their one season of overlap, the veteran corner was given a 68.3 overall grade by Pro Football Focus, including a 68.8 coverage grade and a 75.3 run defense grade. If Johnson impressed Taylor during their time in LA, he could be the first available corner that they call.
For a cornerback, Johnson is a great run defender. After focusing on adding solid run defenders to the secondary like Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, and Vonn Bell in free agency, this trait could standout to the Bengals when they are searching for a veteran corner. He has consistently earned high marks from PFF for his run defense, even in years where his other grades were disappointing.
Not only is Johnson a good run defender, but he can be a solid defender against the pass as well. In 2015, he was 3rd in the league in interceptions, with 7 on the season. Before a poor coverage season in 2019, he was given a 75.1 coverage grade by PFF for the 2018 season.
Johnson had a disappointing 2019, leading to the Jets releasing him. However, his poor play could have been a product of the weak team around him. Aside from 2019, Johnson has been consistently good and has sometimes bordered on greatness. If the Bengals can give him a chance, he can prove that his most recent season was an outlier.