Ever since the offseason began, there has been a lot of speculation on Jalen Ramsey’s future with the Los Angeles Rams. This hasn’t been helped by Ramsey fueling some of these rumors. In a since deleted tweet, Ramsey said, “I can PROMISE you, I won’t get cut . . . now trade? Maybe lol.”
In the early hours on Tuesday morning, Ramsey responded to a recruitment effort by Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, saying, “we shall see”.
A lot of this is cryptic and may not mean much. However, the door isn’t being completely shut by Ramsey either. In the NFL where there is smoke, there is typically fire. Kevin Demoff spoke on Ramsey’s future with the team last week. Demoff said, “Jalen’s been a huge piece of what we’ve done and I think, for all of our players, it’s going to be about figuring out what’s best moving forward.”
The Rams have shown in the past that they aren’t afraid to move on from players if the time is right. They did it with Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks. When Marcus Peters wasn’t working out, they traded him for picks and the went and acquired Ramsey.
Last season, Ramsey allowed 12.7 yards per reception which was his most since 2018. His seven touchdowns and passer rating of 98.6 when targeted were also career-highs. Elite cornerbacks typically have a peak at 26-27 and the drop off around 30. Ramsey will be going into his age 29 season. Now might be a good time to offload him while he still has value.
With all of that being said, trading Ramsey doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Rams. At the end of the day, a trade would only save them around $5M according to Spotrac. Unless the Rams are moving into rebuild mode, trading Ramsey at this moment in time wouldn’t necessarily make the team better in the immediate future.
It’s hard to just replace a player of Ramsey’s caliber given everything he does in the defense. If the Rams do trade him, they need to make sure that they get a player with high potential as well as a player who will come on a cheaper deal. Put those two things together and this means trying to trade for someone on a rookie contract.
Unlike in 2019, there isn’t a disgruntled, young cornerback looking to get traded. Pat Surtain is happy in Denver and Sauce Gardner just had a fantastic rookie season with the New York Jets. There also isn’t an elite cornerback prospect in this draft class that could go inside the top-5.
This means that the Rams would need to trade Ramsey for a top-15 pick in this year’s draft in order to select a cornerback to replace Ramsey. There is one player in that area of the draft that is worth taking as a top cornerback and that is Joey Porter Jr. from Penn State.
Porter Jr. is the son of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter and is arguably the top cornerback in the upcoming draft. If the Rams were to trade Ramsey for draft picks, that’s the type of player that the Rams would need to get in return.
When the Jaguars traded Ramsey, they ended up with K’Lavon Chaisson and Travis Etienne. While both players were solid prospects and Etienne an exciting player, neither were elite by any means. The Jaguars traded a generational prospect for a two players who have been mostly role players in their careers. That may even be a generous description of Chaisson who has two career sacks.
The Rams can’t make the same mistake if they are to trade Ramsey. They need to make sure that the player that they get in return has a high ceiling. That’s what makes Joey Porter Jr. the perfect fit.
Given his background and pedigree, Porter Jr. is a player that is the worth the risk of trading for in the upcoming draft. He has great footwork, his football intelligence is among the best in the class at cornerback, and he’s a player that isn’t afraid to come up and tackle and play physical.
Eliminating false steps and jersey tugs. Great clip of Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. and the two areas that he’ll need to improve. All the ingredients are there, but coaching and patience will be key for him while he works through it. pic.twitter.com/zSrnusiJWV— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) February 20, 2023
By trading Ramsey, the Rams would be losing the most physical presence in their secondary. However, that’s also Porter’s greatest strength. He’s by far the most physical cornerback in the upcoming draft class. In fact, sometimes he’s a little too physical. Porter Jr. plays cornerback with the same physicality and intensity that made his dad such a feared player in Pittsburgh.
If the Rams were to trade Ramsey, it would be imperative that the Rams replace that physicality. The Rams defense works best when it has a pass rush and when the defensive backs make the initial tackle on receivers.
This is an area that the Rams have been exploited, specifically by the San Francisco 49ers. Kyle Shanahan makes it a point for Rams defensive backs to come up and make the tackle. Outside of Ramsey, Rams defensive have been inconsistent in this area.
Joey Porter Jr when lined up in press coverage last season:— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 21, 2023
Zero TDs Allowed
7 Forced Incompletions
58.0 Passer Rating Allowed pic.twitter.com/Y5enT580uq
Trading Ramsey certainly wouldn’t be an easy decision for Rams brass. Last year was his first full season with the Rams in which he wasn't named an All-Pro. If the Rams were to trade him, they would need to make sure that they are getting the right player in return.
With Porter’s pedigree, physicality, ball skills, and ability in both man and zone coverage, he might just be the player worth taking that risk.