Who won the Jalen Ramsey trade?
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
It has now been two seasons since the Jacksonville Jaguars traded away their superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a package of draft picks. Now that those draft picks have all turned into selected players, it’s time to reflect back on the trade. There is a ton of value in draft picks, especially ones in the first round, for a rebuilding team like the Jags, while the Rams were a team built to win now and were seeking a finishing piece to help them make a potential Super Bowl run. The Rams could only make this move by sacrificing some of their future, so did they win the trade, or did the Jags make the better investment?
The Case for the Rams
The Rams decided to make a bold move when they acquired Ramsey by trading away their 2020 and 2021 first-round draft picks as well as one fourth-rounder. They believed it was worth it because they felt he would bring their defense to the next level and make them more of a championship-caliber team. They weren’t wrong about what they were getting with Ramsey as he has been outstanding since arriving on the team and has greatly improved their defense as a whole. Individually, Ramsey has been one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, as demonstrated by his two Pro Bowl selections as well as one All-Pro.
More importantly than the individual honors, Ramsey has contributed to making the Rams defense one of the top units in the NFL. In his first season with the team in 2019, the Rams were ranked in the top half of the league in most defensive categories including total yards allowed per game and passing yards allowed per game. In 2020 they made a big leap to being the best defense in the NFL, leading the entire league in yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed per game, and points allowed per game. The Rams goal was to significantly improve their defense, and acquiring Ramsey helped them to achieve that and more.
The Case for the Jags
Committing to a full rebuild, the Jags were looking for ways to acquire more draft picks. They were willing to sacrifice what they had in the short term for potential long-term benefits, as they should. At the time of the trade, Ramsey was still only 24 years old so he was definitely young enough to be a part of their future. On the other hand, he was clearly their most valuable asset who would bring the highest return in the trade market. So they decided to deal him to the Rams and received a solid package of two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder in return.
Picks are crucial to a rebuild, but the real value is what players those picks turn into. For the Jags, the three players that they selected with the draft picks they received from the Rams were K’Lavon Chaisson, Travis Etienne, and Jordan Smith. Chaisson was relatively unimpressive in his first season with the Jags but he still has plenty of time to prove his worth. Etienne is an electric prospect while Smith was a mid-round value pick, but they are both rookies so it’s still unknown how they will perform at the pro level.
While it’s impossible to determine exactly what the Jags got from this trade, it’s extremely clear that the Rams accomplished what they set out to do when they acquired Ramsey. They wanted to improve their defense, and they did so in a huge way by being ranked the top defense in the NFL last season. Ramsey has been one of the key reasons for their success, and he is on the very short list of best cornerbacks in the league. It is possible for the verdict to change in the future, depending on what the three Jags players turn into, but at this current time, it’s safe to say that the Rams clearly won this trade.