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Rams free-agent preview: Cornerback

3/2/2015

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The free-agent market is scheduled to open March 10 and teams may begin negotiations with those poised to hit the market beginning March 7. We'll count down to that with a position-by-position look at what the St. Louis Rams have in place, who is set to hit the market, what they might need and who might fit the bill.

Under contract: Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, E.J. Gaines, Marcus Roberson, Brandon McGee

Pending free agents: None.

What's needed: Overall, the Rams simply don't have a lot of pressing, must-get-done-for-the-2015-season needs on defense. But, as we've illustrated with some of the other spots such as linebacker and defensive end, they have some big-picture thinking to do. Perhaps nowhere is that more the case than at cornerback. Jenkins and Johnson are both scheduled to become free agents after the season. They've each had their ups and downs but Jenkins is the one of the pair the Rams are more likely to keep. He's given up his share of big plays but has also made some as well. Johnson has struggled with health and has been somewhat unreliable in total. Gaines was a revelation last year and could legitimately hold down a starting spot for a long time to come. If that happens, the Rams could then move Joyner back into the primary nickel back job. Joyner had some bumps in his rookie season but also flashed promise and still figures prominently into the plans. Roberson also has some potential that the Rams like and might have more of a future than some realize. McGee is hard to call because he was hurt last season and hasn't had many opportunities. The Rams have plenty of bodies here but they're going to need to make a decision soon on who they want to play opposite Gaines in the long-term.

Possible fits: There could be some big names hitting the market, namely the yearly parlor game of landing Darrelle Revis. Green Bay's Tramon Williams, Arizona's Antonio Cromartie, Seattle's Byron Maxwell and Houston's Kareem Jackson also figure to draw plenty of interest. But the Rams aren't likely looking to spend big at the position. If they do want to add a veteran at corner, there's simply not much to choose from that would be better than what's already in place.

Verdict: It's probably not worth adding a cornerback this offseason unless it's one the Rams truly believe could be a long-term solution on the outside. That means they won't take the plunge in free agency unless it's for a big name, high-priced type and that means it probably won't happen via the free-agent route. So if the Rams are to make a move on a top cornerback, it's more likely to happen early in the draft. It's too early to say whether that's genuinely possible but it can't be ruled out at this early stage.