The NFL trade deadline is still a couple of weeks away, but that didn't stop the Rams from getting a jump on other clubs. Los Angeles was part of three deals Tuesday, sending starting cornerback Marcus Peters to Baltimore, acquiring second-year Brownsoffensive tackle Austin Corbett, then completing a blockbuster trade with Jacksonville for Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey in exchange for two first-round picks (2020 and 2021) and a fourth-round selection (2021).
The acquisition of Ramsey came two weeks after owner Shad Khan said he did not want to deal his young star and one week after the two had a "heart-to-heart." But in signing off on the trade, Khan affirmed the longstanding adage that everyone has a price, i.e. the Raiders sending Hall of Fame-caliber edge rusher Khalil Mack to the Bears for two firsts, a third and a sixth-round pick; or Giants general manager Dave Gettleman trading wideout Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns a year after signing him to a mega deal and saying you "don't give up on talent"; or the Dolphins sending offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Texans this year after first saying they were not seeking to move the young standout but changing their mind after being offered two No. 1s and a No. 2.
Here are my immediate thoughts on the Ramsey trade:
Rams (short term): Down both starting cornerbacks after placing Aqib Talib on injured reserve Monday because of a rib injury, then trading Peters to the Ravens on Tuesday, they added arguably the top player at the position. Ramsey will bring size, athleticism and a competitive edge that will fit perfectly on this unit, and his ability to excel in press coverage should allow him to assimilate easily into coordinator Wade Phillips' system. He's expected to play Sunday against the Falcons despite missing the previous three games because of a back issue. His arrival is needed because Los Angeles' pass defense has struggled during the team's three-game losing streak.
Jalen Ramsey: The former All-Pro had made it clear he wanted out of Jacksonville, and he got not only his wish, but also a new team that's known for paying top-dollar to elite talent.
Jaguars locker room: Ramsey's standoff with the team had begun to overshadow everything else that was going on because of the uncertainty of the situation. Now the players, coaches and front office can focus on who is there and who wants to be there.
Jaguars: Yes, the Jags got two first-rounders and a second-rounder for a player who did not want to be there, but there are no guarantees when it comes to draft choices. In fact, it's generally accepted that the success rate on first-round picks is 50-50. If true, the Jags gave up on the sure thing for the unknown. It also remains to be seen where the picks they acquired will land. Clearly they're betting the Rams will not be as successful as they were for the past two years when selecting at the bottom of the first round after winning the NFC West -- a streak that appears in jeopardy with them three games behind the undefeated 49ers in the loss column.
Rams offensive line: The unit is in desperate need of an upgrade, and sending away picks to get Ramsey decreases the likelihood of them getting talented linemen high in the draft. And the money that will be spent to sign Ramsey to a mega contract extension -- make no mistake: you don't make this trade unless you're going to lock him up before he's eligible for free agency after next season -- could impact their ability to address the line going forward. Personally speaking, I believe quality football teams are built from the inside out. When I look at the Rams, I see a lot of shiny, high-priced toys at the skill positions but not a lot of quality or depth along the offensive line or at linebacker. They did pick up Corbett, a second-round pick of the Browns last year, but league scouts contend he has played terribly this year and was not much better as a rookie. Los Angeles' scheme is decidedly different, so maybe a change of scenery will be good for him. But at best he's viewed around the league as a stopgap.
Bottom line, the Rams win the trade at the moment if only because they immediately have something to show for the deal. But whether the same will be said two or three years from now remains to be seen.