Until the Los Angeles Rams make it abundantly clear that Jalen Ramsey is staying with the team in 2023, or until we hit actual news or free agency, his future will be the top story of the franchise. That’s not something determined by writers, that’s something that has been percolating because of L.A.’s cap and draft situation, their 5-12 record last season, Ramsey’s contract being the easiest to use as a trade chip to free up some cash, and the fact that he himself has not done much to quell doubts about his future, tweeting recently that he could be traded.
Since 2016, not a year has passed without Les Snead doing some major move, usually a trade involving a marquee player. If it’s going to be anybody of note, Ramsey makes the most sense.
And if there’s a team he could go to, the Detroit Lions make the most sense.
Trending: #Lions WR Amon Ra St Brown is pushing for Jalen Ramsey to come to Detroit if he’s released— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) February 20, 2023
“Jalen, if you can hear this, I know you played with [Jared] Goff before. Detroit might seem like a landing spot, my guy. Talk to me, talk to me.” pic.twitter.com/hV6KbVfLLH
With pick 18, the Lions have a reasonably-valued draft choice that could make sense for a Ramsey deal. Pick six is too high. Pick 48 (Detroit’s second rounder) is too low. But pick 18, their original first round selection, might be just right. If the Lions feel that is too pricey, Snead is known for pick swaps, and sending Detroit back a third or fourth rounder might even the deal.
The Lions are also a sensible destination because general manager Brad Holmes is a former Snead protege and the two worked out the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff trade in 2021. We know that relationship is solid and that they would probably prefer to help each other out if it means getting back their greatest return on what they’re looking for; the Lions win because they pair Jeffrey Okudah with a number one cornerback and the Rams win because they get a top-20 pick and cap relief.
Third, Detroit has managed to finally—for the first time ever—be in “win now” mode. The Lions still have pick six to go for a premium blue chip prospect, someone who could help the team right away (Bijan Robinson?), but do Holmes and Dan Campbell have the patience to develop pick 18 if they could instead get a Super Bowl-winning defensive back who could immediately elevate a defense that ranked 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in first downs allowed, 31st in points per drive allowed, and 31st in net yards per pass attempt allowed?
That’s why giving up pick 18 for Ramsey wouldn’t be a huge sacrifice. They need help now, knowing that immediate upgrades might push them from 9-8 as they were last season to maybe 11-6 or better and arguably as the best team in the NFC North.
It would put Ramsey on a defense with former NFL cornerback Aaron Glenn as the defensive coordinator and former Rams cornerback Dre Bly as the team’s CBs coach.
On L.A.’s end, they would be getting $5.6 million in salary cap relief for 2023, but also an astounding $18.5 million in salary cap relief for 2024. It’s that savings that would allow Snead to acquire veteran talent that he could fit under the 2023 cap while paying down the line in the future. Most of the $5.6 million in savings for 2023 would have to be spent on whoever the Rams select with their new 18th overall pick.
And that’s the big deal here for L.A.: A 5-12 team that needs young cost-controlled talent, the Rams could get a pick that’s literally twice as high as their current number one pick at 36. Snead could either trade down for more picks or solidify one of their many needs by taking the best player available. A player who will be a much higher rated prospect than who the Rams could get at 36.
Imagine a left tackle, an edge rusher, a defensive tackle, or yes, a cornerback, who the team could develop for 2023 and beyond. He’d be L.A.’s highest rated rookie since Jared Goff and before him, Todd Gurley.
The Lions can afford Ramsey, they need to add veteran defensive help that could get them atop the NFC North by next season, they have the draft pick to complete the deal, and they have a strong relationship between GMs.
The Rams need cap space, they could use a first round pick, they have a lot of needs, they have a GM who loves to make trades, Raheem Morris isn’t necessarily utilizing Ramsey to best fit his current abilities, and this might be the peak remaining trade value of his career.
The fit is obvious. But will Snead and Holmes see it that way?