The Los Angeles Rams pulled off a major trade today for Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey today sending their 2020 NFL Draft first-round pick, 2021 NFL Draft first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick as well.
The trade has polarized fans. Some are enthralled about adding perhaps the best young cornerback in the game to the Rams’ secondary. Some are worried that the Rams gave away too much capital for a player who is only under contract through 2020.
They’re both right.
And that’s the issue with this trade.
There’s no room for anything but absolute excellence from Ramsey and that includes required excellence beyond 2020 when his current deal ends.
The Rams gave 14 roster years to the Jaguars today: a first-rounder from 2020-24, a first-rounder from 2021-25 and a fourth-rounder from 2021-24. Do we know those picks will work out? Obviously not. But the capital represents that value.
What they got in return is a proven commodity at least from his use with the Jaguars through his first three-plus NFL seasons. Do we know if Ramsey will work out? The answer it no. And the problem is that the capital does not represent that value.
The Rams lopped off their best avenue to roster improvement today not for the Jalen Ramsey of the last few years. They did it for the Jalen Ramsey of the rest of 2019 and 2020 and, should they hope for this trade to work out, beyond. And the bottom line is that Ramsey simply has to be fantastic to make this work out.
In March 2018, the Rams traded for CB Marcus Peters from the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs sent over a sixth-round pick that the Rams would package in the deal to trade EDGE Robert Quinn to the Miami Dolphins. The Rams sent KC’s way a 2018 NFL Draft fourth-round pick and a 2019 NFL Draft second-round pick. I’m not suggesting that trade didn’t meet value. I am however noting that a 2019 second-round pick is under contract through 2022. The Chiefs used that second round pick on S Juan Thornhill who has yet to play his seventh NFL game before Peters’ time with the Rams came to an end.
The merits of these kinds of trades are built not upon the value of potential alone but the value of potential across time. And that’s the difficult proposition for the Rams. In order to have pulled off a good trade for Ramsey, he’s going to have to make good on his potential for years. Anything less, in potential or time, will deem this move a failure and a massive one given the stakes.
The Rams have unavoidable significant roster losses coming. They have now left themselves unable to be able to address those with the most advantageous valuable option of all - premium draft picks.
Ramsey simply has to render that inability moot in the shadow of his play. For years. At the highest level.
Anything else, and Rams fans will look back at this deal with regret.