A storyline that dominated the NFL landscape for the past month exploded on Tuesday night, as Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for the two first-round picks that the Jaguars wanted, plus an additional fourth-rounder. Ramsey's back was healed, Jacksonville had wiped the slate clean and Los Angeles had a shutdown corner.
"It's a long-term move for one of the best players in the game," Rams COO Kevin Demoff said during a break from the league meetings.
One of the biggest trades in a league suddenly full of them transpired, leaving all sides with new beginnings. Less than 24 later, Jaguars owner Shad Khan -- who had led the charge in telling teams Ramsey wasn't available for the few weeks prior -- reflected on value he couldn't turn down.
"What I think is basically what I've been saying, that we have to respect individual players and do the right thing for the Jags," Khan told NFL Network, while also mentioning that he's still not sure how it went sideways with Ramsey. "I think this is definitely the right thing for the Jaguars. I'm really proud of, as a team, how they've done and I think this really puts us in a good place moving forward."
For the Rams, it was textbook. They are seemingly involved in every trade, and are never shy. This was a perfect example. Their massive move led some to wonder if, at 3-3, they were trying to save their season.
"If we were trying to save our season, then wouldn't we have kept Marcus Peters?" Demoff asked. "If this was panic or desperation, we would've kept both."
For the Jags, Khan notes that the onus is on those making the picks to choose wisely with their new bounty.
Khan called the deal "fair for all parties" and said of the All-Pro Ramsey, "I think we knew what we had in the value." It took a certain amount of patience to deal with everything, including Ramsey sitting out games with an injury.
"Somebody has to step in and say, 'We got to balance the right thing for the team and deal with some of the drama and long-term to do the right thing,'" Khan explained.
For the Rams, meanwhile, it was the opposite side of the spectrum. They've had the huge haul of picks before, dealing the selection that turned into Robert Griffin III to the Redskins in 2012. It turned into eight players, notably Janoris Jenkins, Michael Brockers, Alec Ogletree and Greg Robinson. Only Brockers is still with the team. Over the last few years, general manager Les Snead and Demoff have been far more comfortable trading draft picks for proven pieces.
"We haven't figured out something that other people haven't, we're just more aggressive and willing to do it than others," Demoff said. "And then we're willing to move around in the draft and replenish draft capital. ... Time will tell whether we're better off drafting more assets, but we are not where we were when we did the RGIII trade. It's harder to develop guys with the new CBA. And first rounders are good players, but the hit rate is 50 percent."
Current players are more certain, but also more expensive. It's a give-and-take. Demoff acknowledged the team pays a premium for top, young talent such that they've acquired via trade. And yes, his team's thinking is slightly different than some.
"We don't value late first-rounders as much as we do proven players," Demoff said. It's true, the Rams traded their first-round picks in 2017-2021. But Demoff explains that each was for a different reason.
In 2017, it was simply the price of moving up for Jared Goff. In 2018, it was for Brandin Cooks, who has impressed and still was in his early 20s when they traded for him. Last year, they traded out of the first round and still got a player in Taylor Rapp at No. 61 that they would've taken in the first round. And then there are the Ramsey picks.
"It is a further crapshoot when you get to that point in the round," Demoff said. His team also, by the way, dealt Peters to Baltimore that same day, a deal that Demoff said was somewhat linked to Ramsey but not done together. When they dealt Peters, they knew there was a chance at Ramsey. But they would have executed the Peters deal without finishing off the Ramsey deal.
Of the trade of Peters, who the team was not going to make one of the highest-paid CBs this offseason, Demoff said, "We liked Marcus and wanted to send him to a place where he'd thrive."
Meanwhile, an added beneficiary, oddly, was Rams CB Troy Hill, who became a rare NFL player to sell his jersey number not once but twice. He got $32K for the No. 32 that Eric Weddle now wears, then $20K for the No. 20 that currently belongs to Ramsey. Plus, he's playing well, which allowed the team to even consider the Peters deal in the first place.
As for Ramsey and a possible new contract, this deal was not contingent on making him the highest-paid corner. The team did broach the topic before trading for Ramsey, but the expectation is it'll be handled in the offseason. Ramsey is due to make $13.7 million in 2020.
"There's nothing that binds either side, but we assume he'll like it here and we'll start a conversation," Demoff said.