During his second season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jalen Ramsey was everything he was meant to be as an early first round draft pick, recording four interceptions, 17 passes defensed, and making both the first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl rosters. Though the Jaguars struggled in his first full year with the team, Jacksonville bounced back to win their division in 2017, ranking first against the pass, and falling just shy of an upset win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
Everything seemed to be lining up for the Jaguars the next year, but they collapsed and only won five games as injuries and poor play dominated headlines for the offense and specifically the offensive line. Ramsey was one of the few players who stayed healthy and continued to shine, but it seemed like Jacksonville was headed for another rebuild.
In 2019, now eligible for his first career contract extension, Jalen Ramsey made it clear that’s what he was after that summer.
“Imma ask for so much money, they have to put me on lay-away”— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) June 11, 2019
“Oh come on, Kenneth, you’re reaching. That tweet could be about anything!”
Ramsey’s goals in 2019 did not start with “We, the team, need to get back to the playoffs.” His mission wasn’t how he could become the most dominant cornerback in the NFL, even though he’s one of the few players in the league who has the physical tools to make that a reality. He didn’t wonder aloud how he could recruit better players to Jacksonville so that the team could climb out of the basement of the AFC South.
He showed up to camp in an armored truck and made a public spectacle out of the fact that he wasn’t going to play out his rookie contract until he had assurance that he would become the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
And I don’t fault him for that.
You know, a lot of people write or talk about players wanting money or being dramatic as if it’s a negative. But as nice and humble as a guy like Darius Slay appears to be—and he wants the same things that Ramsey wants—Slay doesn’t give us the same level of entertainment and “show” that we get from the former fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft. I love that Ramsey showed up in an armored truck. I can respect that he probably realizes that getting to the Super Bowl is at least 60% blind luck, so make that money and set yourself up for a long career as a football personality.
I can respect Ramsey’s antics while still calling them out for what they are: Antics by an entertainer.
And I will call him out for his motivations because it’s my job to follow the most important players on the Los Angeles Rams, which Ramsey qualifies as, especially when those motivations have clearly been leading to a separation similar to the one he had in Jacksonville four years ago. Ramsey trade rumors and speculation might be new to other Rams websites...but we’ve been on this since at least last September when he said that Lamar Jackson should stop playing in games until he gets paid.
Because this is what Jalen Ramsey does.
Jags saga with Jalen Ramsey isnt over. Other GMs believe a trade still inevitable: https://t.co/LyizfhQNeW— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 29, 2019
Following his public outcries to be paid as soon as he was eligible, Ramsey made it known by mid-June that the Jaguars were not going to give him the contract extension that he wanted. Jacksonville was already set to pay him $13.7 million in 2020 on the fifth-year option, which would have ranked him fifth among all cornerbacks.
“It is something that we have expressed of course and kind of got into. I let my agent talk to the [Jaguars] and they have had dialogue of course. As far as I know, I’ve been let know that I will not be getting a contract extension. I will not be getting a contract extension this year. You all take that however you may want to take that...”
He told teammate Leonard Fournette on Instagram Live that he wouldn’t be taking a hometown discount, which I also think is fair for Ramsey.
#Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey was told he wouldn’t be offered a contract extension this year.— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) June 14, 2019
And because of that — “no hometown discounts”.
"It's up this year." pic.twitter.com/EiROxnMctp
But Ramsey also made it clear that because the Jaguars didn’t give him the number he wanted in 2019, he was going to make them pay in 2020.
“Next year, especially after I ball, they’re going to come to me ‘Hey, we wanna holler at you. That number is going to be so ungodly. … They’re going to say, ‘Oh God, can’t we get a little discount, 20 percent off?’”
“I’m going to tell them last year you could have gotten that discount. This year. I’m going to need all of that [next year].”
However, it was apparent by the start of the season that there was little chance of Jalen Ramsey still being in Jacksonville in 2020. The Jaguars reportedly turned down an offer from the Baltimore Ravens that included a first, a second, and tight end Hayden Hurst.
After three weeks, Ramsey was again talking publicly, this time telling LeBron James—whether that sentence makes sense or not is irrelevant to my earlier point that “Hell yeah, this is the entertainment that NFL fans are paying for”—that a Jags official said “disrespectful things” to him after a Week 2 loss to the against the Texans.
Whether that conversation should actually force a player to abandon his team midseason, it was probably just the last pinch of seasoning that Ramsey felted he needed to dash in the stew before he started to do the exact same thing he advised Lamar Jackson to do last September in a podcast talk with Bobby Wagner.
On September 16, Jalen Ramsey requested a trade. A week later, he talked to LeBron. And a week after that, after not missing a game during the first three seasons of his career, Ramsey called in sick on a Monday. Very quickly, Ramsey went from a player who said that in spite of not getting the extension he wanted that he was loyal to “Duval” and that he would work it out in 2020, to one who was now too sick to practice three games into the 2019 season.
Doug Marone needs to send a message to Jalen Ramsey after this one. Team doesn’t need him and his “me first” attitude to win. Frankly, I’d trade him to the Eagles.— CogginToboggan (@CogginToboggan) September 29, 2019
Ramsey then reported a back injury, but owner Shad Khan reportedly was finished with Ramsey when the cornerback passed a physical and still refused to play against the New Orleans Saints in Week 6. Khan had refused to seriously entertain offers for someone of Ramsey’s caliber, so Ramsey found a way to push him over the edge to guarantee his move. His concern wasn’t on how the Jaguars (2-2 after four games and hardly guaranteed to be losers) could make the playoffs, but only on his contract situation, which he deflected into being about a single conversation with an unnamed Jaguars official who is not Khan or former head coach Doug Marrone.
And he really couldn’t have asked for a better destination than the cash rich Rams and the soft L.A. media.
Pushed into a trade before they were actually ready (the Jaguars could have gotten a much sweeter deal in 2020), Jacksonville sent him to the Rams in exchange for two first round picks and a fourth. Ramsey was immediately “back” from his back injury and playing in Week 7. Now three and a half years later, Ramsey’s Rams timeline is remarkably similar to the one he had with the Jaguars.
Maybe this time he’s just learned how to deflect the blame onto the organization instead of being so public about his desire for a new contract. But sorry, those tricks haven’t worked on me like they might writers who want to gain favor from the Rams organization. Luckily for us, the Rams organization doesn’t do us any favors. We’ve been writing about this moment for months because Ramsey’s contract was all setup for him to get maybe one last big pay day in 2023.
Ramsey promised that he wouldn’t hold out in 2020 even if the Rams didn’t give him an extension, but the more probable reality is that Ramsey knew the Rams would pay him. His agent would have known that too. The Rams have a blank check for superstars and they had just sacrificed two first round picks for his services, so this wasn’t going to become an issue and that’s why he was lucky to land in L.A.. Ramsey’s five-year, $100 million contract just before the 2020 season was an inevitability and he became the highest-paid defensive back in the NFL.
In Ramsey’s first full season with the team, the Rams were good but not great, going 10-6 and beating the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round but not competing in a divisional round loss to the Green Bay Packers. Injuries to Aaron Donald and at quarterback didn’t help the matter.
In Ramsey’s second full season, like his second year in Jacksonville, the Rams were great. L.A. went 12-5 and won the Super Bowl.
In Ramsey’s third full season, like his third with the Jaguars, the team won five games. After that third season in Jacksonville, Ramsey requested a trade and was adamant that it was time to get paid. Now after his third full season with the Rams, the rumors are rampant that Ramsey will be traded.
It’s easy to push the blame on the Rams organization for it. Especially if you’ve got experience with being involved in a trade request and a desire for a new contract.
#Rams CB Jalen Ramsey is likely seeking a new contract, according to @ProFootballTalk— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 26, 2023
That would be the motivation behind trying to trade him. That also means his new team will need to trade picks for him and then give him a new contract. pic.twitter.com/VfH4wR10jN
Though Ramsey doesn’t have any leverage to ask the Rams for a new contract, he will gain all that leverage back if L.A. is forced to trade him to a new team. Not only might the new team feel obligated to grant him a contract with a brand new signing bonus (Ramsey has a $17 million salary in 2023, but only $5 million is guaranteed), but it could be the only way to even facilitate a deal to his best destination: Not many teams can afford a $17 million cornerback right away, but a new contract would lower his 2023 cap hit considerably.
Ramsey’s agent KNOWS this. Staying in L.A.: No new money. Getting traded: Lots of new money.
Again, don’t confuse this for criticism of Ramsey and his agent. By all means, this is his prerogative. But let’s not detach from reality because we’re afraid of offending the player, the agent, or the organization. A journalist’s only job should be to report.
Rams CB Jalen Ramsey is heading toward a trade not because his current contract is bad for the Rams, but because he's likely angling for another new one. https://t.co/Xl8iTstPFM— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) February 25, 2023
Last time, Ramsey was heavily criticized for his public dispute with the Jaguars. And the premise that he held out of games midseason to force a trade is not great for his reputation either. He isn’t necessarily welcome back in Jacksonville by all Jaguars fans because they know this.
Now Ramsey’s play is more like: “Haha, I don’t know what’s happening? Me: Traded? What would I know about that? lol”
Lol I was just at Nobu in Malibu enjoying my lunch then phone wanna start buzzing— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) February 25, 2023
The “story” sounds better than the truth sometimes I’ll admit that… I live in the truth tho. God is so great! I am blessed & highly favored!— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) February 25, 2023
Again, my hat’s off to the man. The NFL is strictly for entertainment purposes.
But the fact that he went through all of this once before because of a contract and that he could get a lot more money by being traded this year, that is much more useful information than the stories being spun by Ramsey and some other members of the media. This is most likely not on the Rams, although they could benefit from a trade and they knew what they were getting into when they traded two first round picks for a player who got a back injury at the most convenient time prior to the deal.
History has a way of repeating itself.
Jalen Ramsey in a Lions uniform...make it happen— Sean Koski (@S_Koski9) September 29, 2019