If there’s one thing that’s obvious about the Jalen Ramsey situation in Jacksonville, it’s that there are 31 other teams that would like to have him on the team.
Yes, that includes the Ravens. It’s not breaking news to think every team in the NFL is looking for a former All-Pro cornerback any way they can get him.
Two Ravens players, Matthew Judon and Marquise Brown, already tweeted their desire to bring Ramsey to Baltimore.
The logistics of adding him, however, are a completely separate issue.
Ramsey, a 2016 first-round pick of the Jaguars, recently requested a trade. He’s reportedly unhappy with his usage in the Jaguars defense and had a spat with his head coach, Doug Marrone, on the sideline last Sunday against the Texans.
According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, two offers have already been made for Ramsey’s services.
From the Ravens perspective, there’s both pros and cons to what this deal could mean.
Starting with the positives, it’s clear: Ramsey is one of, if not the game’s best cornerbacks. Adding him to a secondary already with Marlon Humphrey on the opposite side of the field, and Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson at safety, would clearly give the Ravens the best secondary in the NFL — if they didn’t have it already.
Without slot cornerback Tavon Young for the season and Jimmy Smith for a few weeks, the Ravens have been pressed deeper than they thought they might have to go with those two absent. Ramsey would come in and immediately fill a hole left behind from injuries.
Ramsey is still under his rookie contract for this and next season, where he’ll carry a cap hit of 7.429 million dollars this season according to Spotrac. Next year, his final year, he’ll have a cap hit of 13.7 million dollars.
The Ravens have 9.625 million dollars in cap space this season, also according to Spotrac. Meaning, they’d be able to fit him in, should they so desire. Next season, they’re projected to have the ninth-most cap space available in the NFL at 68.127 million dollars.
With 10 projected draft picks next year, including two-third round picks and three-fourth round picks, the Ravens will have the ammunition necessary to acquire a player like Ramsey. And in a conference with the Chiefs, Patriots and Browns, all of whom boast outstanding offensive weapons, building out the defensive side of the ball could push the Ravens over the edge.
Baltimore has free agents to take care of at season’s end, like Michael Pierce, Willie Snead, Patrick Onwuasor, Matthew Judon, Patrick Ricard and Jimmy Smith.
None of those names, however, will command top-dollar in the open market. And with Lamar Jackson still on his rookie deal for this season and potentially three more after this, the time to strike for the Ravens could be now.
But, like all trade scenarios, there’s another side to Ramsey’s potential acquisition.
Ramsey has stated his desire to be a lockdown, No. 1 cornerback responsible for shutting down opposing team’s top receivers. The Ravens already have a bonafide top corner in Humphrey, and if the team uses its fifth-year option on him, he won’t have to be re-signed until 2021.
Ronnie Stanley is the biggest fish that the Ravens have to sign, and he’s due after the 2020 season — the same season as Ramsey. Locking up Stanley and Ramsey could prove to be tough, especially considering the fact that both would be at or near the top of the pay-grade for their respective position groups.
And, for better or worse, Ramsey has been known to be vocal about what he sees on the field and in the organization.
That could mean a proclamation about how well the defense is playing as a way of being a leader, or it could mean lashing out when things go poorly. Like he showed last week against the Texans, he’s not shy about telling the man in charge about how he feels. Could that be pent up frustration boiling over? Absolutely. But the Ravens will have to be careful with what they decide, considering that past.
They’ve had boisterous personalities before in Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, so the franchise isn’t foreign to what those players bring.
Even if the Ravens view Ramsey as their top option and would like to make a deal, the Jaguars need to be pleased with the compensation they receive. The Ravens might not be willing to go that far.
Jacksonville has reportedly been asking for a first-round pick, plus more. The Ravens do have a 2020 first-round pick, but might not be willing to sell off what could end up being another second or third-round pick, or even their 2021 first-round pick.
Even if the Ravens offer their 2020 first-round pick, at 2-0 already, there’s a decent shot the Ravens pick 20th or higher in the first round. The Jaguars could accept a trade from another team, who they view as having a better chance of picking towards the top of the first round in the next few years.
So what does all that mean? It means to remain level-headed, whether or not the move gets done.
Should the Ravens pull the trigger on one of the biggest moves of the 2019 season, or should they sit on the sidelines and keep their picks, there are pros and cons to each decision. The trade, or lack thereof, doesn’t mean the Ravens will win the AFC or mean they’re doomed.
It just means they’ll either have Jalen Ramsey, or they won’t.
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