Whether he’s using sources or connecting dots based on his experience in league circles over many decades, Peter King is typically relying on solid information when he makes projections. It certainly does not mean King is always right—I’m sure he’s wrong more often, but aren’t we all?—and he can’t force teams to do what he thinks they would do. But this week on Football Morning in America, King spent considerable time trying to work out several draft pick trades for Les Snead to get the L.A. Rams more picks in the next two years.
And he projected three teams that he thinks that “could be interested” in trading for Jalen Ramsey.
My projection is the Rams could get something between a low first-round pick this year (Dallas, Buffalo and Kansas City could be interested, and pick between 26 and 31 overall) and a package of picks—perhaps a low two this year, and a fourth-rounder this year or next, that could rise depending on performance or play-time markers Ramsey could meet.
King thinks L.A. could even get a first, second, and a fourth for Ramsey. How would any of those three trades look?
King’s projection: 1.26, 2.58, 2024 conditional 4th
All of these teams still have their 2024 fourth and fifth round picks, so King’s assertion that maybe the Rams could add a conditional pick next year works for each suitor. It’s maybe more a question of...”why?” It seems a little weird to do a blockbuster trade that tags on a day three pick after getting a first and a second. Most teams would think, “Can’t you just let us off the hook when we paid this much? Why the extra little needling?”
In seems in that sense, King is just trying to get the Rams an extra pick for 2024. Any extra pick. Typically, it would be more like, a first round pick this year and a conditional second round pick next year, that would be a third if Ramsey is cut before his $4 million 2024 roster bonus comes due (indicating that he wasn’t as valuable as the acquiring team hoped).
If you’re Dallas, you do have the strength of the highest pick in each round of these three particular teams. But I don’t know that the Cowboys are good enough to be sacrificing first and second round picks for Ramsey. I think that before it’s all said and done, Tyron Smith will be cut, Ezekiel Elliott will be cut with a post-June 1 designation, and the team will have significant needs at wide receiver, tight end, running back, linebacker, and safety.
Getting Ramsey would help Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn at one spot. But even if the Cowboys manage to squeeze Ramsey under their salary cap, I think they want to keep their second rounder this year, if not their first. It’s the first round pick who could actually manage to contribute as a rookie and help fill one of those needs, especially if it’s a tight end or a running back.
I would push back on King here and say that the Cowboys best offer comes in at their 2023 second round pick, a 2023 fourth round pick, and a 2024 conditional first round pick that is a second if Ramsey doesn’t play a certain number of snaps or isn’t on the roster by the start of the league year.
My projection: 2.58, 4.127, conditional 2024 first
You don’t have to take it, but I think King is misjudging how far off Dallas is from fielding a roster that can reach the Super Bowl. Even in the NFC.
King’s projection: 1.27, 2.59, 2024 conditional 4th
Unlike Dallas, the Bills have a roster that obviously says “BANG!” and you’re close to the Super Bowl, reuniting him with Von Miller. They can restructure Josh Allen’s contract to save over $20 million and if they did acquire Ramsey, re-do his deal to cut down his $17 million base salary too.
Re-signing safety Jordan Poyer should be a priority, but it does kind of sound like he wants to get going to another state.
Still, with a front-seven that includes Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau, Von Miller, and Matt Milano, a secondary with Micah Hyde, Tre’Davious White, and some up-and-coming corners, Ramsey could be better utilized and surrounded at this stage of his career. That will up his value to a team.
The question may only be if Buffalo feels they need Ramsey relative to the rookie contract value they can get with a late first round pick. The Bills already have a good defense (4th in DVOA, eighth against the pass, third against the run) and Buffalo Rumblings is excited about the future of their young cornerbacks. I’m not sure cornerback is the need they must fill, so if I’m GM Brandon Beane, I’m not offering a first round pick for Ramsey.
Especially knowing his contract situation. Instead, if I have to compete with the Dallas offer, I’m offering a second and a third this year and sweetening the pot with a player.
My projection: 2.59, 3.91, CB Christian Benford
Benford won a starting job against the Rams in Week 1 of last season, but injuries set him back. One reason that Buffalo might be looking for reinforcements at corner. Similar to when the Rams sent E.J. Gaines to the Bills in the Sammy Watkins deal, a young cornerback switches cities to try and push this offer over the top.
I know Rams fans will want higher draft picks, but whether those first round offers are out there will be interesting to watch. Ramsey is 29, heavily targeted by opposing QBs last year (91 targets ranks as the seventh-most in the NFL), owed a lot of money, and this would be the second time he’s probably forced a trade to get off of a “bad team” for a new contract. At best, Ramsey is being mis-used by Raheem Morris and not surrounded by enough talent to help him do what he does best, which only takes leverage away from Les Snead, not add to it.
But it only takes one team, right?
King’s projection: 1.31, 2.63, 2024 conditional 4th
Trading for a cornerback and a player like Jalen Ramsey at this stage of his career does not really fit in GM Brett Veach’s history. I wouldn’t worry so much about their cap space because in spite of their success and talent, Kansas City is actually in a position to add some talent this offseason.
Do they feel that talent needs to come at cornerback.
I can’t see Kansas City sacrificing their first and second round picks at a time when wide receiver, running back, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, and safety could all be addressed in the draft at those stages of the selection process. There’s maybe a chance that Veach could add a really good receiver at 31 or 63, a really good running back at 63, a really good nose tackle at 31, or a really good safety at 63.
Maybe Veach could add another pick to try and go over the top of Buffalo’s best offer, they have two fourth round picks because of the Tyreek Hill trade.
My projection: 2.63, 3.95, 4.120 (from MIA)
It’s just my feeling that these three teams in particular will want to hold onto their first round picks and not to sacrifice them for Jalen Ramsey. That might make it more likely that a team will instead come from the top of the second round, not the bottom of the first.
Like, say, the Colts (2.35), the Raiders (2.38), the Panthers (2.39), or the Jets (2.43).
As loaded as New York’s secondary would be with Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Ramsey, it could suit his talents best and help push the Jets over the top against the offensive attacks in the AFC like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Joe Burrow.
But what’s my best offer?
Best Offer: Raiders - 2.38, 3.70, 5.139, conditional 2024 second
The Rams get second round picks in 2023 and 2024 (If Ramsey plays in 75% of the snaps) plus a third and a fifth. Las Vegas has cap space to make the deal happen, Nevada has no state income tax (which makes Ramsey happy), and the NFL puts another star on the Raiders which the league and owner Mark Davis is desperate to see happen.
The defense needs help, but Maxx Crosby, Chandler Jones, Tre’von Moehrig, and Nate Hobbs with Ramsey is a good start for defensive coordinator Patrick Grahan, while the Raiders are still in position to add a quarterback with their first round pick, either by trading it or picking one in the draft.
Ramsey to the Raiders would be my top guess.