The Rams’ decision to trade the farm for Jalen Ramsey is a perilous move that smacks of the “win now” mentality that dogs sports teams in the pressure cooker of the Los Angeles market.
An aging and illiquid Rams franchise is now plagued by a slew of giant contracts with no plan B if results continue to trend in the wrong direction.
Jalen Ramsey Makes Expensive Rams Core Increasingly Unwieldy
There is no question about the quality of Jalen Ramsey as an elite cornerback, and the former Jacksonville Jaguar can help plug a significant hole in an average Rams defense that got torched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 55 points just two weeks ago.
Unfortunately, when you look at the rest of Los Angeles’ roster, it becomes dangerously apparent that the acquisition of another superstar threatens to destroy the future of the team for years to come.
First, consider that the Los Angeles Rams have already given massive contracts to Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, and Aaron Donald. Jalen Ramsey will likely be the highest-paid cornerback ever when he negotiates his new contract.
When you consider that LA has to replace aging superstar left tackle Andrew Whitworth sometime soon, as well as shore up a struggling offensive line in general, having less room to maneuver is a problem.
The Rams’ liquidity issues get worse as their defense is plugged with older stars like Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle. While once superb players in their own right, Matthews and Weddle are in the twilight of their careers by any metric.
Los Angeles Rams Struggle for Identity as Todd Gurley Declines
Next, consider the decline of Todd Gurley, who appeared to be a viable MVP candidate as recently as last season. Paying Gurley now looks to have been a mistake as the running back manages a long-term and likely degenerative injury situation.
With the addition of Jalen Ramsey and the decline of their offense, the Rams appear to be shifting their identity to a defensive powerhouse. On the face of it, this is not a problem, but as Jared Goff struggles, the psychological and physical toll that this unintentional transition is taking on the Rams QB is apparent.
Sean McVay wants to have his cake and eat it too, but as the New England Patriots have shown this year, patiently playing the long game is the only sustainable tactic.
Win or Bust for NFL Teams in Brutal Southern California
Just like the Los Angeles Lakers who are desperately packing their roster with a small core of expensive stars to guarantee an NBA title before LeBron James ends his legendary career, the Jalen Ramsey trade smacks of desperation by the Rams.
When Ramsey gets paid, there will be no depth on this brittle team. A few injuries and the Rams would have to go into full rebuild mode. Let’s not forget that their new elite cornerback has not always been the best behaved in his short career.
The Rams are desperate to win a Super Bowl to christen their incredible new stadium. They’re well aware of how fickle LA fans are about struggling sports franchises. However, the margin for error is paper-thin; if even a couple of their stars don’t work out, the cap space issues move from a problem to a crisis.
Jalen Ramsey might help Stan Kroenke win a championship, but he might also blow the franchise up for the next half-decade.