The cornerback position carries more question marks for the Los Angeles Rams than any other spot on the roster. Kayvon Webster is coming off of a torn Achilles just two months ago, while Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman are both free agents.
The latter will come much cheaper than Johnson, but after a strong 2017 campaign, he’ll definitely see a bump up from his sub-$1 million salary last year.
Here’s our preview for Robey-Coleman’s impending free agency:
2017 stats: 49 tackles, 2 INTs, 9 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
Robey-Coleman came to the Rams as an underrated free-agent signing in the fact that he wasn’t necessarily a big name. His cap hit in 2017 was just $855,000, proving to be a very affordable starter for the Rams. He’s also an incredibly durable one, too, driving up his value.
Since coming into the league in 2013, Robey-Coleman has missed only one game: Week 17 of this past season, due to rest. Although he doesn’t have the size to play outside, or to match up with opposing No. 1 receivers, his motor never stops.
In the slot, he’s aggressive in the way he pursues ball carriers and blitzes off the edge. That’s the sort of play style that Wade Phillips covets on defense. For his price tag, too, it was well worth signing him to a team-friendly one-year deal.
In today’s NFL, nickel corners have become increasingly important. Although they’re not on the field for every play the way boundary cornerbacks are, teams rely heavily on nickel packages. That means the third cornerback on the depth chart better be someone who can play 70 percent of the defensive snaps, primarily in the slot.
Robey-Coleman is a guy who fits that bill, which is why he ranked 19th among all cornerbacks in the NFL this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Positional need: High
With Trumaine Johnson hitting free agency and Kayvon Webster recovering from a torn Achilles, there are major question marks in the secondary. Robey-Coleman is a guy who can be relied upon to play every game in a season, but his value is decreased by his struggles to play anywhere other than the slot.
Still, keeping him around should be fairly high on the Rams’ offseason priority list, if not for simply the sake of protecting themselves from disaster. That being said, the upcoming draft and free-agency classes are very deep at corner.
Prediction: Signs two-year, $4 million extension with Rams
Robey-Coleman is in line for a pay raise in 2018, especially after making less than $1 million this past year. After fitting in nicely with the Rams, expect to see NRC back in L.A. next season. He went to USC, clearly loves southern California and the Rams have a major need at cornerback, especially if Johnson doesn’t return.