Since the offseason, it was obvious that CB Jalen Ramsey wasn’t happy with the Jaguars and wanted his way out of Jacksonville. He played in their first three games this season, but then sat out in Weeks 4, 5, and 6 with various excuses being used to explain his absences. Ramsey finally got his wish when the Jaguars traded him to the Rams on October 16, getting three draft picks in return. Ramsey is only under contract through the 2020 season, and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders believes there’s one big reason California might play a part in Ramsey leaving the Rams the first chance he gets.
1. No foundation for success
There may be on-field reasons for Jalen Ramsey not to want to stay with the Rams for the long-term. Sanders thinks that if Ramsey doesn’t believe the Rams have a foundation in place for them to have sustained success, then Ramsey may want to get out of Los Angeles and — as he just proved in Jacksonville — Ramsey knows how to get out of a situation that he is not happy with.
The Rams are 4-3 so far this season, but in third place in what is becoming one of the best divisions in the NFL, with the 49ers and Seahawks ahead of them. If Ramsey leaves the Rams — especially if he isn’t with the team for all 25 regular-season games remaining on his contract — this may go down as one of the worst trades in league history.
The draft picks that the Rams traded away — two first-rounders and a fourth — could have played 224 games for the team, 160 total from the two firsts and a 64 from the fourth, if they played out their rookie contracts. If Ramsey forces another trade, the Rams would not get nearly the kind of return that they gave up to get him in the first place. That is why it is surprising that the Rams didn’t lock him up with an extension before agreeing to trade for him as the Bears did with Mack.
2. Highest-paid defender
Deion Sanders also believes that when Jalen Ramsey signs his next contract, he may want to be the highest-paid defensive player in the league, not just the highest-paid cornerback. He says that Ramsey may want to get the same type of money as LB Khalil Mack, who signed a six-year, $141 million contract extension with the Bears when they acquired him in a trade with the Raiders before the 2018 season. And getting that type of deal may be justified for Ramsey because the Rams gave up more to get him than the Bears gave up to land Mack from Oakland.
3. Money, money, money
As with most things in professional sports, Deion Sanders feels that it comes down to money — which includes income taxes. That’s the biggest reason Sanders sees Ramsey leaving the Rams when his contract expires.
Florida doesn’t have any state income tax, while California taxes take more than 13 cents out of every dollar someone earns, which is a big chunk of the $13.7 million that Ramsey is scheduled to make next season.
Sanders feels the tax situation gives Jalen Ramsey more leverage in his eventual contract negotiations with the Rams, as he will be able to ask the team to “gross up” his salary and bonus to compensate for the difference between California’s income tax and a no-tax state. Sanders recalls his 1994 free agency when the Raiders gave him the biggest offer, but he signed for less with the Cowboys because he “wanted to go to Texas. No state taxes there, baby.”
Sanders explains that for Ramsey “the cost of living in California is not feasible to a guy who’s just coming out of Florida. . . I don’t know if this is a situation that’s gonna last over a year. This may be for right now.”