Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are ready for fun times with the Rams
The Los Angeles Times’ Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry break down several roster moves made by the Rams.
Muted applause and laughter came from the back of the room.
It was produced by perhaps the happiest person attending a news conference Wednesday introducing new Rams cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips clapped his hands and smiled broadly before quietly exiting out a door after Peters and Talib proclaimed their excitement about joining a franchise that won the NFC West in 2017 and appeared to have loads of fun doing it under coach Sean McVay.
Peters and Talib were acquired in trades that became official Wednesday, the start of the NFL’s new league year.
The two players, who have seven Pro Bowl selections between them, sat side by side at a table at the Rams’ Thousand Oaks training facility, flanked by McVay and general manager Les Snead, who brokered their acquisitions from the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, respectively.
McVay described them as “special” and “cerebral” players.
“We feel like we got two No. 1 corners,” McVay said after the news conference.
Peters and Talib are the latest marquee members of the Rams’ remade defense that features defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the NFL’s defensive player of the year, and safety Lamarcus Joyner, who received the franchise tag last week.
Talib, 32, and Peters, 25, said they would complement each other on the field.
“We both have a great knack for the game,” said Talib, who has 34 interceptions in 10 seasons, adding, “We do some stuff the same, we do some stuff different.
“So he’ll learn some stuff from me. I’ll learn some stuff from him.”
Said Peters, who has 19 interceptions in three seasons: “He’s got a lot more years on me. I can just learn from him, so it’s going to be huge.”
Peters said it was clear from watching the Rams in 2017 “just how much fun they was having together. It felt like a real team atmosphere.”
Talib echoed that sentiment.
The chance to reunite with Phillips, for whom he played and won a Super Bowl with in Denver, and the opportunity to play for McVay were among reasons Talib nixed a trade to the San Francisco 49ers but agreed to be dealt to the Rams.
“You watch half the teams in the league, they just go through the motions and kind of collect the check,” Talib said. “But there’s another half of them teams, the playoff teams, they got a coach who they respect.
“And whatever [McVay’s] preaching, he’s got guys believing that they can really go do it. … I’m definitely glad I’m part of that.”
So is Joyner.
The Rams tagged the four-year veteran at $11.2 million for one season and let receiver Sammy Watkins hit free agency. Watkins signed a three-year, $48-million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Joyner said he was “fine” with being tagged, that it would not hurt his career and that his goal was still to get a long-term contract done with the Rams.
“We’re just going through the process,” he said during a teleconference. “We’re trying to do what’s best for myself, and my family and what’s best for the Rams.”
Adding Peters and Talib, he said, would help the defense that ranked fifth in the NFL in takeaways.
“They can bring a lot of great things to the back end and help us create a lot more turnovers,” Joyner said.
Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who signed a three-year contract Wednesday, also is looking forward to playing with Talib and Peters.
“Aqib, I can’t wait to soak up his knowledge of the game, of being a veteran,” Robey-Coleman said during a teleconference. “Marcus, I know he’s a young guy but I know we are both ball hawks.”
Both Talib and Peters come to the Rams with histories of incidents.
Peters, who was kicked off the team at the University of Washington, was suspended for a game last season after throwing a penalty flag.
He said he has learned from his mistakes and that his behavior in the past “comes with being a competitor.”
Talib was suspended twice during his four seasons with the Broncos for incidents with opposing players. He also was involved in an incident in which he was shot in the leg.
Snead and McVay said the Rams vetted Peters and Talib and heard nothing but good things from former teammates.
“You continually heard the respect their teammates have for them, the passion they have for football and how important football and winning is to these gentlemen,” Snead said.
The two cornerbacks are looking forward to getting started.
“It won’t be my first time changing teams, man,’’ Talib said. “I’m a social butterfly. I’ll fit in just fine.”
Said Peters: “I’m just trying to come find me a nice comfortable home again.”
Cornerback Sam Shields, who signed with the Rams after sitting out nearly all of the last two seasons because of concussions, said there were times he doubted if he could return. “I feel better now,” he said during a teleconference. “I went through the testing and all that and I feel much better and now I’m trying to keep it that way.” … Snead said the Rams were in communication with receiver Tavon Austin’s agent and that his status would be determined in the next few days. … The Rams met with defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s agents at the NFL scouting combine and Snead said they have agreed on a mutual timeline for discussions regarding an extension. Snead declined to reveal the timeline. … Snead and McVay said the trades that sent Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants and Robert Quinn to the Miami Dolphins were made as part of the Rams’ transition from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4. Both players handled news of the trades professionally, they said. … McVay on Watkins: “Wish him nothing but the best. There’s a reason why he had a market. He put good things on tape and I don’t think that’s exclusive to maybe production from a numbers standpoint. He did a lot more for our offense than that.” … The Rams put an original-round tender on restricted free-agent lineman Matt Longacre. They also put an exclusive free-agent tender on kicker Sam Ficken and re-signed linebacker Garrett Sickles. … Offensive lineman Jamon Brown earned $81,341 in performance-based compensation from the NFL’s collectively-bargained pool that benefits players based on their playing time and salary level.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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