The Los Angeles Rams made a blockbuster trade for Jalen Ramsey on October 15, trading their first-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 along with their fourth-round draft pick in 2020 to the Jacksonville Jaguars for him. The Rams landed one of the best cornerbacks in the league, Jalen Ramsey got what he wanted in being traded out of Jacksonville, and the Jaguars got a nice haul of draft picks. For these reasons, Adam Schefter called this trade a win-win-win.
There’s no doubt that the Rams are a better team today than they were before acquiring Ramsey. But they paid a hefty price for the star corner, and that price paid will only be worth it if Los Angeles wins the Super Bowl in the very near future. Which brings us to the major reason that the Rams are going to come to regret this trade; it doesn’t address the issues that prevent them from being a legitimate contender.
Los Angeles can’t run the ball well
The Los Angeles Rams rank 22nd in the NFL in rushing yards with 98.3 per game. Over the team’s current three-game losing streak, that average was only 73 yards per game. There are two significant issues with the Rams’ running game; a struggling offensive line and a totally ineffective Todd Gurley.
Todd Gurley missed Los Angeles’s last game with a quadriceps injury. But even before the injury, Gurley was having an underwhelming season and has had struggles that date back to the second half of 2018. Gurley is already getting paid far too much for his current level of production at a cap hit of $9.2 million, and that’s about to balloon up to $17.25 million next season when the first year of his four-year contract extension kicks in.
To open up Sean McVay’s vaunted passing attack, the Rams need to open up the field with a quality running game and short passes. They aren’t getting that from Gurley and this offensive line, and Jalen Ramsey isn’t going to change that.
Todd Gurley isn’t the only one underperforming on a large contract
Jared Goff was signed to a four-year, $134 million contract extension this preseason. Goff is not playing like a quarterback who deserves to be paid among the league’s elite, owning a lowly 7-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio through six games and ranking 26th in completion percentage at 62.2% and 30th in passer rating at 37.2. Goff’s salary cap hit goes up to $36 million next year.
Brandin Cooks was signed to a five-year, $81 million extension that started this season. Cooks has only one touchdown in 2019 and ranks 36th in the NFL in receiving yards this season with 343 and 55th in receptions with only 23. His 2020 cap hit is set at $16.8 million.
With so much money tied up in three players on offense that are not producing, the Rams aren’t going to win the Super Bowl this year, and they certainly aren’t going to win it next year when these contracts force them to cut back on their supporting cast even more.
Limited assets and cap space
Los Angeles just traded away its two most valuable trade chips in their 2020 and 2021 first-round picks without addressing the massive issues that are currently plaguing their offense. If they decide to lock up Jalen Ramsey long-term, their already over-stuffed salary cap will be under even more strain, making it impossible to improve in areas of need.
If the Rams don’t re-sign Ramsey long-term, they will have just given up a huge draft haul for a two-season rental; a rental that, again, does not address the team’s biggest issues.
If the Los Angeles Rams turn things around on offense while Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald dominate on defense en route to a Super Bowl victory this season, the joke might be on all of us who doubted them. But if these offensive struggles continue and the Rams fall short of the ultimate prize again, you can’t help but wonder if these trade assets and salary-cap space wouldn’t have been put to better use on improvements to the offensive line and running game.