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  • Bonsignore: Rams trade quickly changes complexion of their offseason

    Bonsignore: Rams trade quickly changes complexion of their offseason
    By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | vbonsignore@scng.com | Daily News
    PUBLISHED: February 23, 2018 at 4:53 pm | UPDATED: February 23, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    As the sun quietly began rising over Los Angeles Friday morning, the Rams faced the formidable task of figuring out a way to keep intact a defense for which key defensive backs Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner were on the brink of unrestricted free agency, and All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald sat at the doorstep of a huge pay day from a new long-term contract.

    With roughly $50 million to work with under the NFL’s hard salary cap and other areas of need on a young, promising roster, retaining Johnson and Joyner while also hooking up Donald was certainly doable.

    Albeit with some creative and clever number crunching, and likely at the expense of releasing or restructuring the contracts of a few veteran players, letting other free agents walk and perhaps leaving some areas of need unaddressed. The dizzying cost of doing business in the NFL can be cruel, tricky and frustrating at times.

    That was early morning Friday. By mid morning everything had changed.

    And for the better after General Manager Les Snead went all commando again with another aggressive move.

    Snead is building quite reputation for stealth maneuvering, and the Rams are much better off for it. Two years ago it was trading up to the top of the draft to grab franchise quarterback Jared Goff. Last year it was the bolt of lightening at the end of training camp when he traded for dynamic wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

    And on Friday, he was in the process of reeling in one of the best lock-down pass defenders in the NFL, in a move that makes as much sense on the field as it does on the payroll.

    In another blockbuster, the Rams acquired Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters, whose 19 interceptions over the past three seasons are the most in the NFL. Peters stands to make just $1.7 million in base salary in 2018, and will be under control for the next two years at a reasonable cost once the Rams pick up his fifth-year option for 2019.

    The trade won’t be official until March 14, the official date the NFL trading period for 2018 begins, but sources have confirmed the deal is agreed to and in place.

    Just like that, the Rams got younger, better and more financially flexible as they approach an offseason for which improving on last year’s surprising 11-5 finish and closing ground on the elite teams in the NFL is the singular priority.

    Boom. What a way to kick off the offseason.

    In one move, the Rams changed the entire complexion of their to-do list. From the draft to free agency to financial flexibility, the dynamics are dramatically altered.

    Peters will cost the Rams a yet-to-be-disclosed package of draft picks, and it almost certainly means Johnson, their veteran cornerback, will leave via free agency.

    And while Peters is an absolute stud, he does come with some baggage. As a junior at the University of Washington in 2014 he was suspended for one game and later dismissed from the team altogether for disciplinary reasons. Last season with the Chiefs he was suspended for a game after reportedly getting into an argument with a coach.

    The Rams are counting on the positive environment cultivated by head coach Sean McVay and a strong, veteran locker room creating a nurturing comfort zone from which Peters can grow, mature and prosper. But there’s no guarantee he’ll be a model citizen from here on out. So there is risk.

    But the upside is far too great not to take the leap of faith. Peters is a ball-hawking defender who has 55 passes defended since 2015, also an NFL best. And there are reasons to believe he can get better, considering he’ll play under Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in a scheme that doesn’t just ask a lot from it’s cornerbacks, but also rewards them by pushing them and putting them in position to shine.

    Peters, who is equally adept at playing man or zone coverage, is a prime candidate to take his game to a higher level under Phillips and behind playmakers like Donald, Michael Brockers and Alec Ogletree.

    Aside from the obvious talent, he’s just now hitting his prime and, with two years remaining on a manageable rookie deal, he provides major flexibility. Keep in mind Johnson made $16.7 million last season and undoubtedly is seeking a long-term deal with a yearly salary roughly in that same neighborhood.

    Instead of deciding between Johnson and Joyner or paying them upwards to $30 million combined, the Rams can comfortably bring Joyner back either on a long-term contract or the franchise tag while also retaining free agent wide receiver Sammy Watkins and locking up Donald on new deal. It also means outside linebacker Robert Quinn is more likely to return rather than be a salary cap casualty.

    It also allows them to peek outside their own building for improvements. The Rams have needs along the defensive line, outside linebacker and tight end, and by getting younger, cheaper (and better) at Johnson’s position they can take a more serious look at help in those areas through free agency.

    Yes, there are some red flags. And Peters will absolutely want to get paid soon. Just as Todd Gurley and Jared Goff will, and Donald is about to be. The Rams have a ton of good, young, talented players. And the price tag is rising every day to keep them long term.

    But how bad a world do the Rams operate in when their biggest problem is figuring out ways to fit so many great players under the salary cap?

    It remains to be seen who Peters will start alongside at cornerback. Veteran Kayvon Webster is recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon and backup Nickell Robey-Coleman is a free agent. But the underrated Troy Hill is expected back, and seems up to the challenge of filling in for Webster if need be to start the season.

    Those are issues for another day, though.

    When the Rams woke up Friday they faced a ton of free agent questions, a glaring need at cornerback and only so much cap space to go around.

    By mid morning they had one of the best shutdown corners in the fold, and more financial flexibility.

    It was a good day, to be sure.

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  • ram3057
    Bonsignore: Aggressive Rams acting like team that knows it’s on cusp of Super Bowl
    by ram3057
    By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | vbonsignore@scng.com | Daily News
    PUBLISHED: March 9, 2018 at 2:17 pm | UPDATED: March 9, 2018 at 3:18 pm


    The best track and field coaches will tell you races begin long before the actual gun goes off. Training. Mental preparation. Strategic planning. All of those lead-up factors play a major role in the eventual outcome. And while no race is ever won before it actually starts, many have certainly been lost.

    Clearly, the Rams are trying to avoid the latter.

    And they are doing it by acting every bit like a franchise situated in the second-biggest market in the country, one that genuinely believes it’s on the cusp of Super Bowl contention and is confident in the leadership and culture in place to add difference-making players with the kind of bold, combustible personalities that sometimes accompany them.

    The new league year doesn’t technically begin for another five days, but when the gun sounds to set off free agency and the opportunity for teams to reshape their rosters and fill needs and better position themselves for the 2018 season, the work general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay and Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff have put in prior to the actual frenzy has already given them a major leg up on the process of building off last year’s surprising 11-5 season.

    The Rams are thinking big.

    Like Super Bowl big.

    And they are doing so with a level of intelligence and calculation often lacking when teams take big, mighty swings for the fences only to be undone by their own aggressiveness.

    The Rams are being bold and smart. That’s a fine line that often gets crossed.

    By agreeing to trade for Chiefs and Broncos Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and trading away linebackers Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree and using their franchise tag to guarantee the return of safety Lamarcus Joyner, the Rams have already addressed a major area of need while preserving the financial flexibility to do even more.

    Peters and Talib provide Wade Phillips with two critical components for his 3-4 defense: A pair of elite cornerbacks whose coverage skills will create more opportunities for the front seven to pressure the quarterback. And they make as much money combined (about $12 million) as it likely would have cost to retain free agent to be Trumaine Johnson by himself.

    Meanwhile, both are under contract for the next two seasons on their base salaries. To put that in perspective, just imagine what it would cost in salary and signing bonuses to reel in players of Peters’ or Talib’s caliber on the open market. Let alone two.

    Yes, both come with big personalities and emotional levels that sometimes need checking, but the Rams believe they have the necessary leadership in place to manage them accordingly.

    Joyner’s return keeps intact...
    -03-09-2018, 04:24 PM
  • Nick
    Winners and Losers from Blockbuster NFL Trade: Marcus Peters to Rams
    by Nick
    Winners and Losers from Blockbuster NFL Trade: Marcus Peters to Rams
    BRENT SOBLESKI
    FEBRUARY 23, 2018

    Well, that escalated quickly.

    Less than a week after Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio brought up the possibility of the Kansas City Chiefs trading cornerback Marcus Peters, the organization agreed to a deal Friday to send the two-time Pro Bowler to the Los Angeles Rams, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    The Washington Huskies product has flashes of brilliance and exceptional coverage skills offset by attitude concerns, which caused UW to dismiss him from its program his junior year following run-ins with the coaching staff.

    "I spoke on his behalf multiple times. He just had issues articulating himself properly with coaches during disagreements," former Washington teammate Hau'oli Kikaha told Bleacher Report prior to the 2015 NFL draft.

    Nothing has really changed.

    After similar issues in Kansas City, the team traded him while he still held value. (The deal can become official when the new league year begins March 14.)

    Chiefs head coach Andy Reid suspended Peters for Week 14's game against the Oakland Raiders last season, and the organization wasn't willing to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    The Rams are taking a chance—Peters may be a difference-maker during the 2018 campaign or flame out in his new situation—but it's worth it considering the franchise's trajectory.

    Either way, the Chiefs and Rams made bold moves creating ripple effects that will be felt around the league.

    Winner: Marcus Peters
    There's no place like home. Marcus Peters is a California native. Granted, he's from Oakland, and he's going to Los Angeles. But a change of scenery—particularly to a preferred area—can be beneficial for anyone who experienced trouble at a previous stop(s).

    The standout cornerback wore out his welcome in Kansas City.

    According to NFL Network's Bucky Brooks, Peters needs a strong-willed coach. A veteran defensive backs coach told him, "It takes a wolf to coach a wolf."

    Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is one of the best in the business and has dealt with multiple personalities throughout his 35 seasons as an NFL head coach, coordinator and assistant. He dealt with alpha dogs such as Aqib Talib, Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Chris Harris Jr. during his last stop with the Denver Broncos, and Peters shouldn't be a problem for the 70-year-old guru.

    Furthermore, the 2015 first-round pick appears to have a future in Los Angeles. Kansas City's unwillingness to entertain long-term options became advantageous for the Rams, who can pick up the 25-year-old's fifth-year option for 2019 before negotiating a more lucrative contract next offseason or the year after....
    -02-24-2018, 05:00 AM
  • Nick
    Rams have $9 million decision to make with Marcus Peters this offseason 
    by Nick
    Rams have $9 million decision to make with Marcus Peters this offseason
    By: Cameron DaSilva | February 13, 2019 2:22 pm ET

    The Los Angeles Rams appeared to strike gold last offseason when they acquired Marcus Peters – a two-time Pro Bowler – for the low cost of a second- and fourth-round pick. Everyone wondered how Los Angeles swiped one of the best cornerbacks in football from the Chiefs without having to relinquish a first-round pick.

    After seeing him play in 2018, it’s easier to understand how exactly that happened. Peters took a step back and struggled in coverage when not assisted by Aqib Talib on the other side, making some believe the Chiefs actually got the better end of the deal.

    Peters’ inconsistent play this past season makes his contract situation that much more difficult to handle. He’s owed $9.069 million on the fifth-year option in 2019, which the Rams picked up last April. Exct was a no-brainer at the time, giving them one more year of control over the cornerback.

    After all, $9 million for a supposedly elite cornerback is an absolute steal, right? Well, Peters may not be an elite corner in Wade Phillips’ system, as evidenced by the 2018 season. Phillips likes to use more man coverage than zone, but to fit Peters’ skill set, the Rams went zone-heavy down the stretch. And it worked, but are they going to stick with that plan in 2019?

    The Rams have a huge decision to make this offseason regarding Peters, his fifth-year option and his long-term future with the team. That decision will be made sooner rather than later, too. When March 13 hits, the Rams will be on the hook for that $9.069 million owed to Peters. They can rescind the fifth-year option, if they so choose, before that date and allow him to hit free agency.

    The fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, so if the Rams don’t want to keep Peters around in 2019 and save $9 million, they can very easily do that. It might not be very likely, but it’s at least on the table.

    The likelier scenario when it comes to parting ways with Peters is Los Angeles shopping him on the trade market – either before March 13 or after. They can trade him and not be hit with any dead money, while also recouping assets in return.

    What will Peters be worth, though? Certainly not more than he was last year when the Rams landed him for a second- and fourth-rounder. He regressed in 2018 and now has one fewer year left on his contract. Would the Rams part ways with him for a single fourth-round selection? Unlikely, but if they truly didn’t like the way last season’s experiment went, it’s not out of the question.

    What the Rams do with Peters this offseason will go a long way toward showing exactly how they feel about the cornerback. If they stand pat and have him play out next season on the fifth-year option, it’ll suggest they’re hesitant to keep him around long-term, potentially...
    -02-16-2019, 06:11 AM
  • Nick
    LA Times: Rams agree to trade for CB Marcus Peters of Kansas City Chiefs
    by Nick
    Rams agree to trade for cornerback Marcus Peters of Kansas City Chiefs
    By GARY KLEIN
    FEB 23, 2018 | 4:30 PM

    The Rams did not wait until the start of free agency or the NFL draft to address a pressing need at cornerback.

    On Friday, the Rams agreed to trade unspecified draft picks for two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

    The people requested anonymity because the transaction cannot be officially executed until the NFL's new league year begins on March 14.

    The Rams are coming off their first playoff appearance since 2004, but the secondary moving forward was cause for concern.

    Cornerback Trumaine Johnson played under the franchise tag the last two seasons and is a pending free agent. Kayvon Webster, who started opposite Johnson last season, is recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury.

    The acquisition of Peters, who grew up in Oakland and attended college at Washington, probably ensures that the Rams will let Johnson hit the market rather than come to terms on a long-term deal. Johnson earned nearly $31 million the last two seasons.

    Peters, 25, was the 18th player chosen in the 2015 draft. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two NFL seasons.

    As a rookie, the 6-foot, 197-pound Peters intercepted eight passes — returning two for touchdowns. He intercepted six passes in 2016 and five last season.

    Peters is scheduled to earn slightly more than $1.7 million in salary during the upcoming season, according to overthecap.com. The Rams have until May 3 to exercise a fifth-year option on Peters, which would keep him under control through the 2019 season.

    Gaining a cornerback of Peters' caliber — at a relative bargain rate — provides the Rams flexibility as they decide whether to franchise tag or extend receiver Sammy Watkins and safety Lamarcus Joyner, and possibly come to terms on a new deal for tackle Aaron Donald, the NFL's defensive player of the year.

    Under first-year coach Sean McVay, the Rams went 11-5 last season.

    Veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips directed a unit that ranked 19th in the league in total defense (339 yards per game) and 12th in scoring defense (20.6 points per game). The Rams were fifth with 28 takeaways — 18 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries.

    Despite the addition of Peters, the Rams still have issues with cornerback depth.

    Nickell Robey-Coleman signed a one-year contract before last season, and played well as a slot corner. He started four games and intercepted two passes. Robey-Coleman, who played at USC, said after the season that he wanted to remain with the Rams.

    "I want to stay here — I want to be around," Robey-Coleman said the day after the Rams' playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons. "I definitely...
    -02-24-2018, 04:52 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Busy Rams still have major to-do list this offseason
    by r8rh8rmike
    Busy Rams still have major to-do list this offseason


    By Gregg Rosenthal
    Around The NFL Editor

    No general manager had a busier, bolder spring than Rams general manager Les Snead. No decision maker has more work left to do in the coming months.

    The Rams' trade tsunami resulted in a wave of incoming talent, diminishing salary cap space and only one long-term contract handed out, to little-known cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. The casual confidence Snead has in his coaching staff to assimilate all the team's new players is matched by his belief that he can make all the contractual puzzle pieces fit.

    "We have plenty of space over the next two years to lock up these guys long term and have this core together, and that's the goal," Snead said at one of the Rams' seemingly daily press conferences earlier this month.

    The Rams are in a unique position as one of the NFL's undeniable power teams, yet they also have one of the longest to-do lists still to complete this offseason. Below is a look at what they still want to get accomplished.

    Rams' to-do list

    1) Sign Aaron Donald: All signs indicated that Donald welcomed the addition of Ndamukong Suh to the Rams' formidable defensive line. That congenial attitude figures to disappear if Donald is forced to play for half as much money as Suh this season (as currently scheduled). Donald, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is more likely to be playing on a contract closer to the groundbreaking pact Suh signed in Miami back in 2015. Snead has said repeatedly he has "budgeted" an extension for Donald and said this week Donald should become the highest-paid defender in football. That's been easier said than finalized for a year now. It will be a complicated contract that will presumably push a lot of salary cap pain into the future because the Rams have virtually no space at the moment.

    2) Re-sign Brandin Cooks or Lamarcus Joyner to extensions: The Rams have three standouts from the 2014 draft class in Donald, Cooks and Joyner. Donald and Cooks are set to play this season on the fifth-year options of their rookie deals, while Joyner was retained with the franchise tag for more money -- $11.29 million. The Rams would love to free up the use of the 2019 tag by signing at least two of the three players.

    Cooks is the better bet to get a contract quickly, with NFL Network's Steve Wyche reporting that the Rams intend to sign him long term before the season. The Rams have until July 16 to sign Joyner to a long-term deal. A contract for either player would likely be backloaded to lower the cap hit for 2018 and push money into the future. That could become a trend for the team as it builds toward moving into its expensive new stadium in 2020.

    3) Budget for Todd Gurley and Marcus Peters contracts: There is a general misconception that the Rams are in "win...
    -04-11-2018, 12:44 PM
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