The Jacksonville Jaguars finally had enough on Tuesday afternoon and green lit a trade to send disgruntled cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a first round pick in 2020, a first round pick in 2021 and a fourth round pick in 2021. The Jaguars gave Ramsey a chance to play and change his mind on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, after a heart to heart meeting with owner Shad Khan, but once the corner decided to sit out another week the team knew it was time to move on.
The return for the Jaguars good, not great, but it can improve depending on if the Rams continue to be stuck in neutral and Jared Goff’s downward trend continues. Right now the 2020 pick is looking to be somewhere in the 18-24 range and who knows for the 2021 pick.
The good news is, the Jaguars dealt a player who was clearly never going to take the field for them again and got some good draft capital for the future, that if used correctly could help finally stabilize a franchise that’s been trying to slap tape on the damn of struggling for mediocrity for a decade.
Ramsey trade is only good for the Jaguars if they hit the picks
The Jaguars have four first round picks in total for the next two NFL Drafts, but while having more darts to throw is great, it’s only a good deal for the Jaguars if they actually draft good players in the first round. You might read that and think “Yeah, duh” but that hasn’t been the case in recent years under the current regime.
Running back Leonard Fournette, who finally appears to be turning the corner, is the longest tenured first round pick on the Jaguars and he was picked in 2017. The three previous first round picks, hilariously enough, are on the Rams after being traded or released. The team has drafted better in the last two years, but they’ve put themselves in a pickle roster construction wise because they missed on so many picks in the years prior, including quarterback.
If the Jaguars can nail these first round picks, and expecting them to be the talent level of someone like Jalen Ramsey is a worthless argument/exercise, they will set themselves up both roster-wise and cap-wise going forward, even with the handful of mishaps they’ve had with both over the past two seasons.
You’re supposed to stagger picks and contracts
For the sake of making this point a lot more direct and easier to navigate, we’re going to pretend Gardner Minshew II continues to play well and the Jaguars offload Nick Foles in the offseason to a team for a third round pick and Minshew is the guy going forward.
The way you should be constructing your roster is a mix of cost-controlled rookies and high priced veterans, with the veterans falling off your cap when you get to the point of paying those rookies for their second contract. This was the Jaguars plan when Dave Caldwell took over as general manager, but he whiffed on a lot of his first round picks and the team was forced into spending more on free agents than they’d have liked and the timing of all these things are now off-set, which is why people were so worried about how they’d pay their young talent like Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue and Jalen Ramsey.
Jack got paid and now Ramsey is gone, so that’s a huge chunk of cap space you were planning on now freed up. The multiple first round picks also give you multiple cost-controlled contracts on what should be premium talent, as well as a quarterback on a dirt cheap contract. This lets you fit in re-signing guys, keeping guys you might have had to move on from or restructure and target specific positions/players in free agency.
The real question is, who is making the picks?
It’s been bandied about and discussed since the trade was made, but are we sure who is going to be making the picks come the 2020 NFL Draft? As mentioned previously, the front office drafts the last two seasons have been better than before, but before was a total disaster so the only way to go was up.
Currently the Jaguars sit with a 2-4 record, and while the schedule is favorable for them to pull above .500 again, it’s going to be tough to finish out the season with anything more than an 8-8 record, regardless of who is at quarterback. So if that happens, does everyone get a pass because Nick Foles got hurt in Week 1 and Jalen Ramsey was a big distraction and they run in back in 2020?
Do you enter 2020 with everyone on a lame duck deal for everyone? I think we’ve seen how that works and plays out.
Personally I think if they don’t finish with a winning record, and as much as I like Doug Marrone, they should finally just clean house and start fresh from the top down. This team is due for fresh eyes, especially if they finish with another losing record. They’ve done a bunch of half-measures since Shad Khan took ownership of the team and it’s just constantly felt like they’re putting band-aids on severed limbs.
The Ramsey trade would make the job rather attractive, because of all the draft capital the team has to work with going forward, allowing a general manager to really build it out how they’d like, along with some good young talent already there.