When the Los Angeles Rams placed Aqib Talib on IR, shutting him down for 8 weeks minimum, there was concern for a defense giving up 346 total yards per game. When they shipped opposite starting Cornerback Marcus Peters to Baltimore for LB Kenny Young and a 2020 5th round pick, there was confusion.
With having both of their Week 1 starting CB’s no longer available, it left the team with Troy Hill, Nickell Robey-Coleman, David Long Jr, and Darious Williams at corner, respectively. Hill has shown potential under the tutelage of Wade Phillips and has appeared in 46 games with the Rams (starting 14) in 4+ seasons. NRC is best known as the “slot god” and should be kept in the slot as he is one of the best at his craft in the game. David Long Jr. is a player this regime really liked coming out in the 2019 draft from Michigan. Long Jr. scored either 1st or 2nd in all of Pro Football Focus’ advanced stats and gave up an eye popping 18 receptions for 130 yards in 595 defensive snaps in his college career. Darious Williams is by far the least experienced as he is in his second season with the Rams, appearing in 5 out of 6 games this season, with not much to show for it.
This all brings us to Tuesday. Seemingly out of nowhere, after General Manager Les Snead, Head Coach Sean McVay, COO Kevin Demoff and co. continued wheeling and dealing, a blockbuster of all trades went down. Sending a 2020 and 2021 1st round pick along with a 2021 4th round pick to Jacksonville for All-Pro Corner Jalen Ramsey.
This front office has never shied away from taking risks. From signing free agent Ndamukong Suh, to making trades for EDGE Dante Fowler Jr., Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and today for Jalen Ramsey, they are willing to go all in. There have been good and bad in all of those risks, but unlike past regimes in this franchise the focus seems to be getting better each day. This move, as stated in the title of this blog, is high risk and high reward. Ramsey is under contract through the 2020 season and can become a free agent, where he will undoubtedly set the high water mark for corner backs, currently held by Xavien Howard in Miami at an average of $15.3 million per year. The Rams must believe they have a high chance of signing him long term, as you would think giving up 10 combined years under contract between two first round picks for around a season and a half rental isn’t beneficial for the long term.
The first test for Ramsey, assuming of course he passes his physical, will be this Sunday against Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons. Jalen will not be up to speed on play calls and audibles, but with a player of his skill set, the belief has to be to put him on the field and let him play football.
This team is clearly in win now mode and the window for a championship could be closing much faster than expected, especially with long term contracts kicking in in the next two seasons. The Rams now possess arguably the two best players at their respective positions on defense, DT Aaron Donald and Ramsey, coupled with an insanely talented offense. At 3-3 in the most competitive division in football there is work that has to be done. But the steps they took today have definitely made this team better. Although after injuries and poor play on the offensive line, maybe the front office should pick up the phone and call Washington Redskins GM Bruce Allen to see what the asking price on Tackle Trent Williams would be.