Jalen Ramsey knows what the Los Angeles Rams gave up to get him in a 2019 midseason trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars — two first-round draft picks and a fourth — but he hasn’t kept up with what happened with those picks.
“Nah, I leave that up to Twitter and social media to do that,” Ramsey said this week. “I don’t like to compare myself to other people anyway.”
Here’s the short version: The Rams pulled off one of the most one-sided trades in NFL history, at least based on what the Jaguars have gotten out of those three picks to date.
You know what the Rams got out of the deal. Ramsey has been a first-team All-Pro in both of his full Rams seasons, and Los Angeles is in Super Bowl LVI. It’s not too crazy to start wondering if Ramsey will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day.
“I believe I’m the best corner — excuse me, I believe I’m the best defensive back in the NFL,” Ramsey said.
The Jacksonville side of the trade? It’s not pretty.
Rams clearly won Jalen Ramsey trade
At the time it appeared the Jaguars got a lot for Ramsey. He wasn’t happy with the Jaguars. He was about to get a massive contract extension. Getting two firsts and a fourth for a disgruntled cornerback wasn’t too bad.
But the Rams’ approach is to value proven players over draft picks. The Ramsey trade shows why that can be smart.
The first selection the Jaguars used from the Rams was 20th overall in 2020. They took LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, who has started 11 of his 31 career games and has only two sacks in two seasons. He has not had an interception, forced fumble or a recovered fumble. The Jaguars have gotten almost no impact out of him.
In 2021, the Jaguars took Clemson running back Travis Etienne with the 25th overall pick. Etienne hurt his foot in a preseason game and then had surgery for a Lisfranc injury. He missed the entire season. Etienne could end up being a great back for the Jaguars, but he has lost a year and there’s no guarantee he’ll recover all of his explosiveness.
The Jaguars used the 2021 fourth-round pick from the Rams to move up nine spots in a trade with (wait for it) the Rams and take UAB edge rusher Jordan Smith. Smith was inactive until the final two games of the season, as the Jaguars said he wasn’t physically ready. He played 21 defensive snaps, 11 special teams snaps and had two tackles.
It’s early. Maybe Chaisson emerges in his third season. Etienne could still live up to all the promise he had coming out of Clemson if he is healthy. Smith, and anyone else with the 2021 Jaguars, might have been held back by in-over-his-head coach Urban Meyer. But two-plus years after the trade, the Jaguars have gotten almost nothing out of trading one of the best players in the NFL.
Two sacks from two edge rushers and one year lost to an injury for a running back. That’s it.
“Whoever those exact guys are in those positions where they got the picks from the Rams, I have nothing against them, I hope they succeed in their careers,” Ramsey said. “I hope they do wonderful things and it works out for them, as well.”
Rams’ big deal pays off
NFL teams hold onto draft picks like they’re gold. It’s why you see relatively few player trades. Even the Rams struggled with sending away so many picks.
“You’re always going to ask yourself the question of, is it best to utilize draft picks to either move up and get who you actually, you obviously would assume would be a player with high potential or a higher projection, but again it’s still a projection,” Rams general manager Les Snead said when the trade was made.
Let’s assume there’s no regret from the Rams more than two years later.
Ramsey was asked about the trade and casually dropped the date: Oct. 15.
“It was a good day,” Ramsey said. “I was happy and grateful, not only grateful for the Rams trading for me but I was grateful for my time and experiences I had in Jacksonville as well. It helped build me and mold me into the player I am today. I’m grateful for all of the journey.”
Ramsey said he never put any extra pressure on himself due to all the picks the Rams gave up, though he said, “It showed me they valued me tremendously.” He did want to show the Rams made the right call.
“I always tried to prove myself right and prove others right throughout my career,” Ramsey said.
Maybe the trade will look better from the Jaguars’ side in a few years. As Ramsey prepares to play in Super Bowl LVI, it looks like one of the biggest steals in NFL history for the Rams.