Among the reasons that LA Rams general manager Les Snead may feel comfortable in his abilities to survive every draft without a first round pick is probably the successes he’s had on days two and three. That would include his 2012 effort of selecting cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson in rounds two and three, two players who would go on to receive the franchise tag from the Rams and large free agent contracts from other teams.
They are both among the most successful post-first round cornerbacks from the previous decade, but Snead couldn’t come to long-term contract agreements with either.
Snead also found some success in his second draft with third round safety T.J. McDonald, who had a six-year career and eventually signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Miami Dolphins. Then in 2014, Snead selected defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, another future franchise tagged player for the Rams who left for a long-term deal elsewhere, in this case the Raiders.
John Johnson was drafted in the third round in 2017, but the most notable secondary additions came in the form of veteran additions Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. That cornerback duo helped LA reach the Super Bowl in 2018 but neither relationship would last long; Peters only played in 22 regular season games for the Rams before being traded and Talib only appeared in 13.
Peters was only 26 at the time of the trade but for Los Angeles, they didn’t feel he would fit into their long-term plans as well as another corner who they were about to acquire: Jalen Ramsey.
And unlike all of these other players, Ramsey makes perfect sense for a long-term extension with the Los Angeles Rams.
Unlike Aqib Talib, Jalen Ramsey is at the start — or worst case the start of the middle — of his career
There are a number of reasons that Ramsey is a better extension candidate than Talib, who at the moment remains a free agent of 34 years of age, but I’m addressing Ramsey’s age in this section. Which is 25 years and 306 days as of Aug. 25.
When I see cornerbacks like Jalen Ramsey, I think of players like Champ Bailey, who didn’t make his first all-pro team until he was 26, or Darrelle Revis, who remained elite until at least age 30. Ramsey has already been an all-pro and has remained consistent from his first year in Jacksonville to his most recent season with the Rams.
Unlike Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner, Ramsey seems probable to live up to a large contract
The hype that got Johnson a $72.5 million deal with the Jets seemed odd at the time and was potentially built on the fact that the Rams franchised him two years in a row. Had the team let him walk in 2016, or if they had needed to tag someone else either year, I wonder what he would have signed for then and how his transition to another defense would have gone. We’ll never know. Johnson was released after two seasons with the Jets and making 15 starts.
Joyner may have also not been tagged in another year where LA needed to retain a more important player but his year of waiting for free agency turned into a $42 million deal with the Raiders that did not have great first year results. Joyner says that he needed two years with Wade Phillips before he really “got it” and that he hopes for the same in year two with Las Vegas defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
Otherwise he’ll be a free agent again soon, like Johnson.
In 22 combined seasons between Johnson, Joyner and Jenkins, they’ve had one Pro Bowl (Jenkins, 2016) nod. Ramsey has already had three and we can expect quite a few more. If Ramsey ever got a franchise tag, it would be because he’s a franchise player.
Unlike Marcus Peters, Ramsey seems reliable and wanted
Peters could be a Hall of Fame cornerback and it’s fascinating that he’s already had 27 career interceptions and seven defensive touchdowns before turning 27. Especially given that Peters was dismissed by his college football team and traded by two NFL teams with a span of about five years.
The Ravens are the latest team to love Peters, giving him a three-year, $42 million extension during his run to a second all-pro selection. But for a team that just parted with Earl Thomas on another potentially overzealous deal, seeing Peters in another uniform before the end of 2022 wouldn’t be all that surprising.
Jalen Ramsey helped the Jaguars have the best defense in the NFL in 2017 and then he saw what makes them one of the least successful franchises in the league over the last 20 years. So he wanted out. That is nothing like Marcus Peters changing teams and there are plenty of reasons to think that this extension will work out better than those for Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley, not counting the ones that didn’t happen.