Blockbuster NFL Jalen Ramsey Trade Winners and Losers
0 out of 5
AP Photo/Abbie Parr
There had been speculation for some time that the Los Angeles Rams were headed for a firefight after last year’s miserable Super Bowl title defense.
On Sunday, this fire sale began in earnest.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefterthe Rams sent Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins for a third-round pick (No. 77 overall) and tight end Hunter Long.
For the Rams, this is essentially a simple salary dump — and an admission that the team’s days as a Super Bowl contender are over. For the Dolphins, it’s a big acquisition that bolsters the defense and signals that Miami sees itself as a legitimate threat in the AFC East. And for Ramsey, it’s a change of scenery that means avoiding rebuilding in Los Angeles and pocketing a big chunk of change.
It’s a gut-wrenching trade that will have a major impact not just for the Rams and Dolphins but for the entire league.
For some, that impact is cause for celebration.
For others, not so much.
Winner: Jalen Ramsey
1 out of 5
Steph Chambers/Getty Images
The biggest winner of Sunday’s trade may well have been the biggest name sent packing — at least judging by his tweet about the deal.
Jaylen Ramsey @jalenramsey
Mr. Ramsey seems to be a happy camper.
Honestly, it’s not hard to see why. The Rams look nothing like the team that won Super Bowl LVI. Los Angeles went 5-12 last year, and from all indications the franchise is going to blow up the roster and start from scratch. At this point in his career, Ramsey is probably not inclined to want to be part of a ground rebuild.
Now, the 28-year-old can join a Dolphins team that won nine games and reached the playoffs in 2022. Provided quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can stay healthy, the Dolphins will head into the 2023 campaign as legitimate AFC contenders East.
There’s another reason Ramsey should be happy he’s moving from SoCal to South Beach. In the 13.3 percent, California has the highest state income tax in the country. Florida has no state income tax at all.
Also, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.comas part of the deal, Ramsey’s salaries for 2023 and 2024 are now fully guaranteed at $20 million per season, and he will receive an additional $25 million in guarantees.
No wonder he’s happy.
Loser: Los Angeles Rams
2 out of 5
Jason Allen/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Remember when the Rams were good?
Those were fun times.
However, those days are also over—and while general manager Les Snead’s “all-in-the-present” strategy in 2021 brought the team a Super Bowl victory, the account has officially expired.
The Rams had already sent sharpshooter Leonard Floyd packing. Wide receiver Allen Robinson II appears in trade speculation and could follow. On Sunday, Los Angeles surrendered the team’s best defensive player not named Aaron Donald.
And this may not be the end of the bloodshed. Earlier this week, Snead insisted the Rams are not shopping quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“We’re definitely going to lean on Matthew. He’s definitely one of our pillars,” the GM said Thursday, per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. “He’s definitely someone we’re going to lean on … as we remodel it.”
However, rumors continue to swirl that if Snead can find a trade partner willing to take on Stafford’s $57 million in guarantees, the signal caller could be sent packing.
It’s hard to criticize his strategy too much. After all, he won the team a Lombardi trophy.
But Los Angeles’ 2022 season was one of the worst ever by a defending Super Bowl champion, and with the Rams in terrible cap trouble, Snead has no choice but to blow up the team.
The window is closed. And 2023 could be an even bigger season for the Rams than 2022.
Winner: Dolphins DC Vic Fangio
3 out of 5
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
In February, new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fanzio told reporters he was excited to get to work.
“I think the Dolphins have a good thing going here,” Fangio said. “There are good elements of the coaching staff led by Mike [McDaniel] which made it interesting to join it. I still have a lot of coaching left in me. This is who I am and what I enjoy doing.”
That level of excitement can only be higher after acquiring Ramsey – because a unit that already looked solid on paper just got a whole lot better.
Miami also had talent on all three levels of the defense. Christian Wilkins is an excellent interiors guide. Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips make a formidable frontcourt duo. Xavien Howard is a Pro Bowl starter. Jevon Holland, 23, is a rising young talent at safety.
Now, Fangio gets a defensive back in Ramsey who has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last six seasons. In both 2020 and 2021, Ramsey was a first team All-Pro. He can play all over the formation, be it on the edge, in the slot or at safety.
There’s still work to be done – the Dolphins could use an upgrade at inside linebacker. But Fangio is one of the best defensive minds in the game.
And he’s certainly not short of pieces to work on in his new gig.
Loser: Rest of AFC East
4 out of 5
Winslow Townson/Getty Images
There may be smiles in Miami, but the rest of the AFC East probably isn’t too happy to see the Dolphins make this remarkable upgrade.
Because while the AFC East may not have a “bad” team, the other three clubs face a major question mark in 2023.
The Buffalo Bills are the three-time defending division champions and should be considered the top seed again this year. But the financial realities of making quarterback Josh Allen one of the league’s highest-paid players have set in.
In New England, the Patriots seem mired in mediocrity. New England’s defense remains stout, but the offense’s limitations are covering the team’s cap space — and that offense could be in even worse shape in 2023 if wide receiver Jakobi Meyers leaves in free agency.
Then there’s the New York Jets. If New York’s pursuit of Aaron Rodgers is successful, the Jets could be a real threat in the division. But as things stand, Gang Green has a big hole in the game’s most important position.
In light of the Ramsey trade, it can be argued that the Dolphins are the most balanced, complete team in the AFC East.
Winner: Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa
5 out of 5
Megan Briggs/Getty Images
There may not be a quarterback under more pressure to succeed in 2023 than Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins recently picked up his fifth-year option, and head coach Mike McDaniel said in February that the team is committed to the quarterback.
“I think it’s important to recognize that we have a pact of interest between the Dolphins and the player — Tua — that both parties really want him to play at a very high level for a long time for the Miami Dolphins,” McDaniel said.
Make no mistake: After last year’s promising start gave way to an injury-riddled finish, the pressure is on Tagovailoa to show he really is “the guy.” And fair or not, the standard by which quarterbacks are judged is team success.
Granted, adding Ramsey doesn’t fix all of Miami’s problems. The offensive line still needs work, and the running game is a huge unknown, with most of Miami’s players set to hit free agency this week.
But adding Ramsey to an already solid Dolphins defense can only help the offense. There is no pressure to be perfect in every possession. Ramsey has had four interceptions in each of the last two seasons, and either of those options could mean a short field.
The Dolphins still have plenty of cap space to add a free agent in the backfield, and while the team doesn’t have a first-round pick, Miami has three Day 2 picks with which to bolster the O-line.
In short, Miami is better now than the team that made the postseason last year without Ramsey and Tagovailoa for much of the campaign.
Tagovailoa’s chances of winning 10-plus games and returning to the playoffs just got better.
And that kind of season would cement his status as the Dolphins’ franchise quarterback.
Salary cap information via Spotrac unless otherwise noted.