THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Jalen Ramsey is thrilled to land with the Los Angeles Rams, and the team is already optimistic about keeping the star cornerback around for a long time.
Ramsey headed to the Rams’ training complex Wednesday, a day after Los Angeles traded two first-round picks to Jacksonville for the mercurial two-time Pro Bowl selection.
On his Uninterrupted podcast on SiriusXM’s app, Ramsey pronounced himself “overjoyed” to be with the Rams, and eager to “show them that they got the best corner in the whole NFL for years and years to come.”
Rams general manager Les Snead said he has already spoken to Ramsey’s representatives about his future beyond his current contract, which ends in 2020. He said both sides were encouraged by the conversation.
“We actually did talk to his representatives and give our long-term view, and (get) his,” Snead said. “We did put a little bit of a timeline in place. I don’t want to give too many details on that, but we’re just meeting Jalen today. He has earned a chance to probably get a nice contract for the job he does and the position he plays.”
Snead wouldn’t guess whether Ramsey will play Sunday at Atlanta when the Rams (3-3) attempt to end their first three-game losing streak since 2016, saying Ramsey must meet with the team’s training staff first. Ramsey missed the Jaguars’ last three games with a back injury, but returned to practice recently.
Although Ramsey won’t be rushed, the Rams need reinforcements in their secondary. Along with starting cornerback Marcus Peters’ departure in a trade to Baltimore on Tuesday, the Rams put two starters in their secondary — cornerback Aqib Talib and safety John Johnson — on injured reserve this week.
Even in their depleted state, the Rams felt Ramsey was worth the considerable risk.
“There’s only a handful of players like that, and he happens to be one of them,” Snead said. “Not saying that there’s not a lot of good corners out there, but since he’s been in the league, he’s shown the ability to get out on an island.”
Snead and the Rams are well aware of Ramsey’s contentious reputation after he repeatedly clashed with coaches, the front office and opponents during his tenure in Jacksonville. Los Angeles hasn’t hesitated to acquire players with similar reputations — like Peters and Talib, for instance — but has had no public problems with them in coach Sean McVay’s system.
“When you do research on it, the first thing I want to know is, do they love football?” Snead said. “Is this the chapter they’re focused on? And do they love winning? Ultimately, we’re all going to go through some situations (and) you’re going to have some outbursts, but a lot of times, with the research, it was maybe because of a loss or a bad play or things like that. These are young kids, so they don’t have the emotional intelligence that I’ve acquired, but probably didn’t have at Jalen’s age.”
Ramsey’s arrival was just part of a tumultuous week for the Rams, who traded Peters to the Ravens in part to clear the salary cap room necessary to acquire Ramsey. Snead was conflicted by the necessity of the move, calling Peters “one of the most authentic human beings I’ve ever met.”
Peters drove more than 50 miles from downtown Los Angeles to Thousand Oaks to say farewell to the coaches and front-office personnel after getting news of the trade Tuesday.
“He’s going to continue making impacts both on the field and off the field,” Snead said. “Nothing but respect for that human being. It’s always tough. Pulling for him.”
But the Rams weren’t interested in signing Peters to a long-term deal before his rookie contract expires this season. Ramsey’s desire for a lucrative long-term contract, and the Jaguars’ potential reluctance to provide it, were among several factors leading to his departure from Jacksonville.
Snead and the Rams have a reputation for rewarding their elite players: In the past two years, they’ve handed out the largest contracts in NFL history for a defensive tackle (Aaron Donald), a running back (Todd Gurley) and a quarterback (Jared Goff), and they gave a huge extension to receiver Brandin Woods before he played his first game for Los Angeles last year.
Snead’s maneuverings also confirmed his long-held belief that draft picks aren’t valuable solely for the prospects to be chosen with them. The Rams’ architect believes picks are just as useful to acquire known quantities who have proven their abilities. And that’s why his team hasn’t made a first-round pick since 2016 and doesn’t currently have a first-round pick until 2022.
Marqui Christian is likely to replace Johnson alongside Eric Weddle in the starting lineup, while nickel back Nickell Robey-Coleman, Troy Hill and Darious Williams are among the contenders to play extensively at cornerback.