Jalen Ramsey played possibly his last game as a Jacksonville Jaguar on Thursday night, an action that involved some risk. The All-Pro cornerback was on the trading block after asking to be dealt, and an injury against the Tennessee Titans could’ve ruined a prospective deal. Ramsey going down would’ve hurt the Jaguars as well, but Ramsey played anyway.
And he played hard. Ramsey was his usual, awesome self for the Jaguars, helping his teammates earn their first win of the season. He had nine tackles and forced a fumble. He was targeted seven times by Tennessee, but allowed only four catches for 74 yards.
Ramsey played without reservation for his teammates, knowing he it’s likely won’t be with them much longer. As a note, it’s reportedly possible the Jaguars simply keep Ramsey.
He could be traded as soon as Friday, per reports, and is expected to have a new team by next week.
There’s also a big-time payday coming sometime between the expected trade and next season. That didn’t matter Thursday night. He just helped the Jaguars get a win.
Jon Gruden must’ve liked that. The Raiders are among a long line of teams hoping to acquire Ramsey in trade, sources said. The Raiders head coach didn’t need convincing – the cornerback is amazing -- but Thursday night’s relatively selfless act didn’t hurt Ramsey’s stock.
The Raiders have the draft capital to make this deal, which reportedly could cost a first-round draft pick plus more picks and/or a player. Ramsey’s new team also will have to pay up despite him still having a year left on his rookie deal, plus a fifth-year option in 2020 and franchise tags after that.
A team could play contractual hardball, but keeping him happy seems the way to go.
Gruden could and would make this deal, dwindling his draft cache and future salary-cap space for a truly dynamic player. Let’s not forget: they have a cushion after breaking free of the Antonio Brown deal without paying a dime.
This isn’t another column about whether the Raiders should trade for Jalen Ramsey. Esteemed colleague Josh Schrock did that already and did it well. I agreed with his stance, and believe Gruden should try to make this deal.
Not, however, at any cost. Some restraint is required in moments like this.
There will be competition for Ramsey’s rights, but it’s unwise to get into a bidding war. The Raiders are interested and it’s believed the have inquired about Ramsey, but it’s uncertain what they’d be willing to give up.
They shouldn’t get into a bidding war with other teams. The Raiders should stick to their valuation, make an attractive offer if one hasn’t already been made and then keep fingers crossed.
Emotionally competing with others, especially if a rival’s involved, could hinder a roster rebuild with significant work left to be done.
The Raiders need another wide receiver, a top-flight edge rusher, a young linebacker and maybe another safety, and it’s only September. Those deficiencies won’t change if Ramsey comes aboard.
General manager Mike Mayock has exerted some influence and discipline in recent acquisitions, including the Brown trade – it didn’t work out but it was thought to be a good deal at the time, with third- and fifth-round draft picks certainly worth the opportunity to acquire a great player – and a few instances in the NFL draft.
If the Raiders get Ramsey at a price Mayock and Gruden consider affordable both financially and through trade compensation without setting an overall rebuild back, they’ll celebrate. If they have to re-up, sacrifice and spend beyond their means, it could slow things down for a Raiders roster that still needs significant upgrades.
The Raiders can’t lose sight of the big picture while pushing to acquire a truly elite talent. Lots of good cornerbacks have played on bad defenses. The Raiders need a talented depth chart, and have several moves left to complete it.