Offseason Outlook: With Talib and Peters, Rams have answers at outside CB for 2019

Over the last few years, the Rams have entered the offseason with questions at the cornerback position.

Back in the 2016 offseason, starters Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson were going to be unrestricted free agents. The Rams chose to place the franchise tag on Johnson, and Jenkins signed with the Giants in free agency.

On a one-year deal, Johnson again was approaching unrestricted free agency to start the 2017 offseason — and, again, the Rams placed the franchise tag on him. Los Angeles then signed Kayvon Webster to start opposite of Johnson in the first season under head coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

With Johnson approaching free agency for the third year in a row, the Rams solved the seemingly ending questions by trading for both Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. The deals were not official until the start of the league year in mid-March, but really, that solved the cornerbacks question for both 2018 and 2019.

When L.A. acquired Peters and Talib, both had two years remaining under their contracts. For Talib, that was the result of the six-year deal he signed with Denver as a free agent back in 2014. With Peters, that was from the fifth-year option the team had from the cornerback being a first-round pick back in 2015.

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Peters picked off three passes — returning one for a touchdown — and had eight passes defensed in 2018. And in just regular-season games, Talib had an interception, five passes defensed, a forced fumble, and a 47-yard fumble recovery during the regular season.

But Talib had a clear impact on the Rams defensive unit as a whole. Including playoffs, the Rams surrendered just 321 yards and 17.8 points per game with Talib. Without him, they gave up an average of 401 yards and 30.8 points per game.

Clearly with both players manning the outside, the Rams are significantly better off.

Los Angeles also helped solve the cornerbacks question by re-signing slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman to a three-year deal last March. Robey-Coleman spent the first four years of his career in Buffalo, before coming over to L.A. on a one-year deal in 2017 and excelling covering receivers in the slot — earning that three-year contract. Robey-Coleman now has two years remaining on that deal. In two seasons with the Rams, Robey-Coleman has played in 31 regular-season games — starting five — with three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

Los Angeles does have a few free agents at cornerback — Sam Shields will be unrestricted when the new league year begins, and Troy Hill will be a restricted free agent. But with Talib, Peters, and Robey-Coleman under contract for 2019, the Rams should be in good shape when it comes to their starters at the cornerback position.

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