I had guessed that the LA Rams would extend cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Monday, the final day of August, but as expected with most guesses, I was wrong. As of this writing, there is no announced contract for Ramsey even though the two sides have been negotiating — in some form at least — since the star corner was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Even if that just meant the Rams evaluating what they’d be willing to pay Ramsey, the lead up to an extension has gone on for about as long as it could.
If Les Snead, Sean McVay, Kevin Demoff, the NFL and the Rams want to put a pin on this season of Hard Knocks with a record breaking deal that ensures Ramsey another five or six years in Los Angeles, then the clock only has a few more days worth of hours left on it.
Teams around the league have been active in notable extensions this offseason and in the last three weeks alone we’ve seen deals for George Kittle, Travis Kelce, Dion Dawkins, Kenny Clark and Budda Baker. Following his trade to the Philadelphia Eagles in March, cornerback Darius Slay signed a three-year, $50 million extension and his $16.68 million salary set a new record at the position.
The previous record was four days earlier, when Byron Jones signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Miami Dolphins that pays him $16.5 million per year.
The argument for Ramsey as a superior corner to Slay and Jones would find few people who oppose, and Ramsey is also two years younger than Jones and three years younger than Slay. The starting point for Ramsey may not be the highest-paid corner, but the highest paid defensive player who isn’t a pass rusher. Depending on how you feel about DeForest Buckner, who now makes $21 million with the Indianapolis Colts (but probably in large part due to pass rushing skills) that would be Bobby Wagner at $18 million per year with the Seattle Seahawks.
If there is any holdup in the negotiations between Ramsey and the Rams, it could be that Snead was expecting to pay him like the best-paid corner at $17 million per season, and that Ramsey is looking at players like Buckner, and Chris Jones, and even Amari Cooper, and wondering why he shouldn’t get $20 million per year. Of course, AAV is just one measure of a contract and not the most important one, but it is something that gets attached to respect and is often where people look first when reading about contracts.
However, the $46 million fully guaranteed given to Byron Jones, as compared to $26 million for Slay, $24.5 million to Wagner, and $40 million to Cooper, may be where Ramsey focuses his attention instead.
What really matters to the Rams though is not necessarily the contents of the deal, but the context of the announcement. Can they make it happen as a nice way to wrap up the Hard Knocks season as a “Yes, we’ve got him locked up and there’s a bright future ahead in LA” or will it potentially drag into 2021?