Looking Back…Who Won the Chiefs-Rams Marcus Peters Trade?

The History

Peters was the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2015, and he quickly provided a return on the team’s investment. As a rookie, he was named to the All-Pro second team as a result of his league-leading eight interceptions. In years two and three, he added another 11 picks to his gaudy total. Peters had already vaulted himself to the upper echelon of cornerbacks and was arguably the league’s top ballhawk.

But, as happens with many players, Peters’ antics began to overshadow his play. Most notably, he was suspended for one game after throwing a flag into the crowd and getting into a heated argument with a coach. As Kansas City saw it, the headaches he caused opposing quarterbacks weren’t worth the headaches he caused them.

Shortly after losing in the 2017 playoffs, the Chiefs agreed to send the frustrating corner to Los Angeles. The Rams were coming off a surprising 11-5 finish in Sean McVay’s first year and looking to add pieces to cement their contender status. As their success was fueled by an elite offense, acquiring Peters to shore up the defense seemed like a perfect fit.

Los Angeles Post Trade

Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

This trade kicked off the Rams’ Dream Team phase, where they seemingly acquired every player with star-level name value possible. Out of everyone they brought in, Peters may have been the crown jewel. He and Aqib Talib were expected to form an impenetrable cornerback duo, which they did. Sometimes.

Some games, the Rams defense was diced up with no resistance. Others, they would terrorize opposing offenses. Unfortunately for L.A., the former games were more frequent occurrences than the latter.

The Rams’ defensive struggles became a major storyline during the regular season, especially as they got carved up on national television against fellow contenders like the Saints and Chiefs. Peters came under fire himself after a terrible showing against the Saints. Michael Thomas hung 200 yards and a touchdown on the Rams, with most of that coming against Peters.

While it wasn’t always perfect, Peters and the Rams made plays when it counted. Los Angeles finished tied for the best record in the league at 13-3 and won the NFC’s Super Bowl bid (albeit in questionable fashion). Defensively, they tightened up in the postseason.

Round two with the Saints was a vastly different story, with Thomas only totaling 36 yards (largely thanks to Talib). And the Rams’ championship meltdown was the offense’s doing—the defense only allowed 13 points.

Still, Peters’ 2018 was largely a disappointment. He posted the lowest interception total and worst advanced stats of his career. After extension talks went nowhere, Peters entered 2019 on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

An inconsistent start for both the player and team led to Peters being traded once again. This time, it was to Baltimore and for pennies. Los Angeles received a fifth-round pick and linebacker Kenny Young, who only saw playing time on special teams.

Peters rebounded with the Ravens, returning to his old form and earning himself a nice contract. Hours after dealing him, the Rams acquired a new star corner in Jalen Ramsey.

Luckily for us fans, we got to see a heated revenge game. In a matchup five weeks after the trade, Peters intercepted his old quarterback and got into it with his replacement as the Ravens romped the Rams.

As a whole, the assets exchanged in the Rams’ Peters experiment look like this: 1.5 years of Peters, a 2018 sixth-round pick, 2020 fifth-round pick, and Young for a 2019 second-round pick and 2018 fourth-round pick.

Both their incoming picks were moved as minor parts of packages that allowed the Rams to draft Allen (in competition to be their starting center) and dump Talib’s salary.

The only acquisition of significant value for L.A. was Peters. Despite that, he never lived up to his star billing and was probably an above-average corner overall in his time with the team.

Even though the picks they gave up weren’t extremely valuable, they are sorely missed by a team currently devoid of cap space and future draft picks.

I can’t really say the Rams won or lost this trade. It didn’t cost much to acquire Peters, but he didn’t make much of a positive impact on the team, either. In the end, I’d call it a wash for L.A.

Kansas City Post Trade

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As a team, the Chiefs haven’t missed Peters in the slightest. In two seasons since the trade, they’ve lost in the AFC Championship and won the Super Bowl.

As a cornerback room, it’s a bit of a different story. Kansas City’s defense was horrendous in 2018, partially due to their lackluster corners. Maybe keeping Peters would have moved the parade in Kansas City a year earlier.

That’s a big maybe, though, and the Chiefs solved both their corner and overall defensive issues the following season. Plus, they won the Super Bowl, so there’s no regrets on their side.

Also, Peters’ cap hit in 2019 would have been $7.3 million, or potentially even higher if he signed an extension. For a team as cap-strapped as the Chiefs, that probably means they don’t pull the trigger on Frank Clark, who was instrumental in their championship run.

Along with Clark, Thornhill was a big reason for Kansas City’s defensive resurgence. Drafted with the Rams’ second-round pick, he started all 16 games as a rookie before missing the playoff run with a torn ACL.

Watts, the Chiefs’ selection with the other Rams pick, hasn’t had nearly the impact his counterpart has. After playing scarcely in his first two years, Thornhill’s injury presented his best opportunity for meaningful playing time. Instead, Daniel Sorenson played almost every snap, leaving only scraps for Watts. There’s only so much you can expect from a fourth-round pick, but he’s done next to nothing.

Thornhill showed enough potential to make up for him, though. He had three interceptions last year and seems to have cemented his spot as the present and future starter next to Honey Badger. Considering how cheap he’ll be for the rest of his rookie deal, he might come close to matching the more expensive Peters’ value.

Obviously, the Super Bowl quashes any debates on whether or not they’re better without Peters, but this trade was more than just an ends-justify-the-means situation for the Chiefs. Thornhill is exactly the kind of cheap and promising player Kansas City needs now that Patrick Mahomes is making eleventy billion dollars a year. Dealing Peters kept them from being in an even more dire financial position, too.

Final Verdict: Chiefs Win

I don’t think Los Angeles bombed this trade by any means, but this was a pretty easy choice nonetheless. Kansas City saved money and got a nice young player while Peters’ time with the Rams was tumultuous and short-lived.

Who do you think won the Peters trade? What trade should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.

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