It’s not often a 25-year-old ball-hawk of a cornerback gets traded.
But for the Kansas City Chiefs, Marcus Peters was apparently more trouble than he was worth as they shipped him to the Los Angeles Rams, who sprung on the opportunity to add one of the best players at his position to their roster.
In return, Kansas City will receive a package of draft picks – no other players involved – which have yet to be revealed as the trade has to wait until March 14 to be processed in the new league year.
It’s possible the Chiefs will receive the Rams’ first-round pick (23rd overall), but even without knowing all the details, the reasons for both teams making the move seem clear.
For Kansas City, the decision likely has little to do with Peters’ play on the field.
The two-time Pro Bowler and 2016 first-team All-Pro member has been a takeaway machine since joining the league three years ago, snagging an NFL-best 21 interceptions over that span (including playoffs). For comparison, the next-closest player, Reggie Nelson, is seven interceptions behind with 14.
Peters has managed to be a rare blend as both a cornerback who opposing quarterbacks try to avoid and one that forces turnovers.
And having turned 25 in January, there’s no reason to believe Peters’ skills or athleticism are on the decline.
All of that makes the Chiefs’ willingness to part with him head-scratching, at least on paper. But when you factor in his character concerns, along with the hefty payday he’s set to receive sooner than later, the trade makes more sense.
It’s no secret that Peters has had moments of hot-headedness, dating all the way back to the University of Washington where he was thrown off the team for an argument with an assistant coach.
This past season In Kansas City, he was involved in a heated altercation with defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on the sidelines, along with being suspended by the Chiefs for a game after throwing an official’s penalty flag into the stands and then leaving for the locker room without being ejected.
As talented as Peters is, there are red flags to suggest his personality may pose enough of a problem.
While something like that can be managed, it’s conceivable Kansas City were more concerned with losing Peters for nothing in free agency in two years, regardless of whether he wasn’t interested in re-signing or they weren’t into the idea of handing him a lucrative contract.
Peters will count for only $1.74 million against the cap this coming season and has a cheap team option for 2019, so it’s not as if the Chiefs didn’t have time to explore their options. However, if the reports are true that San Francisco and Cleveland were the only other teams to express interest in acquiring Peters – and that too tentative interest – then it’s likely his trade value may have been at its highest right now.
.@MikeGarafolo says the #49ers interest in #Chiefs CB Marcus Peters was lukewarm. I’d add the #Browns are described as the same. This wasn’t a showdown between the #49ers and #Rams. It was all LA and KC when it came down to it.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 23, 2018
It takes some manoeuvring to understand Kansas City’s thinking behind the move, but that’s not the case for the Rams who appear to have hit a home run.
Aside from adding an elite playmaker to their ranks and giving defensive coordinator Wade Phillips more talent to work with, Los Angeles will benefit with cap flexibility.
Peters’ team-friendly cap number is expected to replace the mammoth figure of Trumaine Johnson, who had received the franchise tag in consecutive years and is set to sign a rich deal in free agency this offseason.
The ripple effect means more savings for the Rams to throw at their best player, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, down the road, while allowing them to have more avenues in the draft and free agency.
And as far as Peters’ character issues, it seems like Los Angeles coach Sean McVay is confident in the culture he has cultivated in his short time at the helm of the team.
Adding Peters may not put the Rams over the top, but it fits their timeline of contending in both the present and future.
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