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Jalen Ramsey says he would hold out of games if he felt disrespected by contract

Ramsey’s advice to Lamar Jackson: Force Baltimore to pay you by missing games

Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Two years ago, Jalen Ramsey set an NFL record by becoming the first defensive back to sign a $100 million contract and earn $20 million per year. Though the Los Angeles Rams assumed some risk and lost leverage by trading for Ramsey the season before he was up for a new contract, Ramsey had reportedly also told the Rams at the time of the trade that he promised not to holdout.

Besides, after trading two first round picks for him, Ramsey knew that he had all the leverage to get a record-sized contract from a team that was also debuting a $5 billion stadium in 2020. However, if Ramsey was still with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the time, or if the Rams had gotten cold feet at the alter, it seems clear now that Ramsey would have used that leverage to pressure L.A. into a $100 million contract.

Perhaps even if it meant holding out.

Ramsey made that belief clear this week when chatting with teammate Bobby Wagner on the Uninterrupted podcast. In talking about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, currently playing on his fifth-year option and negotiating his own deal as he enters a contract year, Ramsey in a roundabout way says that he would start missing games if he was Jackson.

It’s clear that Ramsey is hesitant to outright say he wants to say, but here is his exact quote:

“If I was in Lamar’s shoes and I had the leverage that I feel like he has right now, he is a top quarterback in the league... I feel like he has all the leverage. It ain’t gonna be running the same without Lamar, right? If I was Lamar, in essence I would (pause) I would call their bluff a little bit. I would. I would like (pause) yo look, I ain’t, without, without a new contract, without you showing me that you all value me, man I’m not gonna play—Man—if he gets dinged up, I’m not finna to play through these injuries like I would. I’m not going to be going out here, sacrificing my body, and y’all are in essence—not saying this is what they’re doing—but y’all are “disrespecting me” by not giving me what I deserve.”

Wagner seems a little uncomfortable, although that could be a misinterpretation on my part, but his response seems to confirm that suspicion.

Wagner responds by saying that if he was in Lamar Jackson’s shoes that he would do exactly what Jackson is already doing, which is playing every week and showing the organization how good and valuable that he is as a football player. Essentially, Ramsey says that if he was in Jackson’s position, he would hold out right now. And Wagner answers by saying he would not hold out and that he would play.

When he was up for a new contract in 2019, Wagner conducted a “hold-in” with the Seahawks before signing a three-year, $54 million contract extension on the very first day of camp. He missed one day of practice.

Ramsey is in the second year of the five-year extension he signed in 2020, and he is all but locked into his $25 million cap hit for the 2023 season too. However, the Rams have a big decision to make next year because they will need cap relief and restructuring Ramsey’s contract would create $10.6 million in savings. It would also, however, virtually guarantee the cornerback’s $26.7 million cap hit in 2024.

According to Pro-Football-Reference, Ramsey is one of six players right now to have allowed at least 175 yards and two touchdowns over the first three games. Restructuring the 28-year-old’s contract next year is far from a guarantee because of the guarantees that come with that decision. However, if the Rams leave Ramsey’s contract alone and hint that they might be willing to part with him in the near future—Los Angeles saves over $15 million if they released him in 2024—will Ramsey take that as a sign of disrespect?

We know what he thinks Lamar Jackson should do.