Winners and Losers from NFL's Shocking Jalen Ramsey, Marcus Peters Trades
The NFL trade deadline looms two weeks away. But after three consecutive losses, the Los Angeles Rams didn't wait to shake up their roster.
On a quiet Tuesday afternoon, the Rams made their first move, sending cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport (h/t NFL.com's Grant Gordon).
With cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve with a rib injury and Peters on the move, Los Angeles needed help on the perimeter of the secondary. Subsequently, the front office acquired cover man Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars for first-round picks in the next two drafts along with a 2021 fourth-rounder, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
All three teams should come out of these deals satisfied with the initial outlook, but some aspects of the trades provide downsides, as well. We'll go through the biggest winners and losers from Tuesday's blockbuster moves.
Winner: CB Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey emerges as the big winner from Tuesday.
Clearly, he wanted out of Jacksonville. According to Schefter, the 24-year-old requested a trade through his agent after he had a sideline spat with head coach Doug Marrone during a Week 2 loss to the Houston Texans.
After suiting up for every game in his first three seasons, Ramsey missed practices and the last three contests because he wanted to be present for the birth of his second child, suffered an undisclosed illness and endured a back injury.
Owner Shahid Khan expected Ramsey to suit up in Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints, but he remained out. The cornerback's extended absence likely made it easier for the team to accept a deal at its desired price.
Ramsey will go from a 2-4 third-place squad in the AFC South to a 3-3 team that just went to the Super Bowl. He also wants a new contract, so it's likely the Rams gave up premium draft capital with the intent to keep him in Los Angeles for the long term.
Loser: CB Marcus Peters
Peters has a decorated resume as an All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler, but he's been traded twice on his rookie deal, which should trigger a warning for any team that acquires him.
Peters had a strong three-year stretch with the Kansas City Chiefs between the 2015-17 campaigns, logging 55 pass deflections, 19 interceptions and two pick-sixes. The Washington product flashed as an elite playmaker who could flip the field with his tendency to force turnovers.
Still, the Chiefs traded him to the Rams during the 2018 offseason, and he had some inconsistencies with his second team. The 26-year-old admitted to his uneven year, per Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News.
"I'll stand up," Peters said. "I can play better. I've been playing [shabily] these last couple weeks, and that's just being honest. I'm just going to continue to fight. That's the type of player I am. You're going to get beat in football, but you go out each week to the highest of your ability."
Peters' play has improved marginally over time, but he never reverted to his 2016 All-Pro form in Los Angeles. That probably explains why the Rams traded him for a second-year linebacker and a Day 3 pick Tuesday despite discussing a possible extension in March.
Now, Peters has to prove himself in Baltimore to earn a big-money deal in the offseason. He must grasp his new surroundings quickly or risk having to settle for a one-year bridge deal before seeking a long-term pact.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
When Ramsey initially requested a trade, the Jaguars seemed to set a high bar for the return: two first-round picks, which is what the Oakland Raiders recouped for one of the elite pass-rushers in Khalil Mack last summer.
Typically, cornerbacks fall behind edge-rushers on the trade market, but Jacksonville pulled off the deal to acquire two first-rounders and a fourth-round pick, which satisfied its demands. That's a steep price for the position because quarterbacks can target the opposite side of the field, home in on the seams or focus on the short passing game to avoid an elite cover man.
Yet the Rams felt the need to mortgage their future to fill a need in the present with Talib on injured reserve and Peters out of the picture.
The Jaguars flipped a player who wanted to move on into premium draft capital for the next two years. Plus, the pass defense has performed well without him, allowing an average of 228.3 yards per game in his absence.
Jacksonville remains competitive without Ramsey and has draft resources to rebuild the position if necessary.
Loser: Rams' Roster Depth
The Rams will pay a hefty price to keep Ramsey in the fold long-term. He'll likely reset the cornerback market and sign the richest deal at the position. We don't have to look any further than his arrival to Jaguars training camp in a Brinks truck to realize the All-Pro cover man wants a lucrative new deal.
Los Angeles hasn't hesitated to pay its players. Running back Todd Gurley, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and quarterback Jared Goff all signed extensions over the last two years.
But it seems the Rams won't have adequate returns on their investments in Gurley and Cooks. The former doesn't look the same and has been battling an arthritic knee. He's missed a game and is averaging just 12.8 rush attempts per contest. The wideout ranks third on the team in receptions (23) with one touchdown catch as a third option behind Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
With a new contract likely in line for Ramsey, the Rams won't have the financial capital to acquire notable free agents or re-sign top in-house talents like edge-rusher Dante Fowler Jr., inside linebacker Cory Littleton or defensive lineman Michael Brockers, all of whom are solid starters.
General manager Les Snead must hit on draft picks and bargain-bin free-agent signings in the immediate future.
Winner: Los Angeles Rams Pass Defense
Without a doubt, the Rams upgraded the cornerback position by adding Ramsey to the perimeter.
Even if Talib returns to action, he's landed on injured reserve in consecutive seasons and turns 34 in February on an expiring contract. As mentioned, Peters had his moments, but the fifth-year pro isn't a shutdown cornerback and is prone to giving up big plays over the top.
Although the Rams still need an answer opposite Ramsey, the pass defense is much better off with him as the lead cover man rather than Peters.
Secondly, assuming the front office signs Ramsey to a new deal, Los Angeles will have a while before it has to worry about top-notch wide receivers racking up video-game numbers on one side of the field.
The All-Pro cornerback can hold his own on an island against the best in the game, which he displayed in Jacksonville when lined up across from Houston Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins, per Pro Football Focus.
Loser: NFC West Wide Receivers
The NFC West isn't loaded with top-tier wideouts. Tyler Lockett is in his second year as a full-time starter with the Seattle Seahawks. The San Francisco 49ers have a young core at the position. At 36 years old, Arizona Cardinals pass-catcher Larry Fitzgerald can probably see the light at the end of his career.
Nonetheless, any wideout who takes on a lead role in the division will have to see Ramsey twice per year. Before he expressed his desire to leave Jacksonville, he showed his durability for three consecutive terms.
At 6'1", 208 pounds, Ramsey can shadow bigger, more physical wide receivers on the outside, and he can travel with quick-twitch athletes who move across formations. The Florida State product even matched up against Tyreek Hill during a Week 1 contest with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Regardless of their speed, size and ability, wide receivers will have a difficult time with Ramsey's coverage versatility.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens' Injury-Riddled Secondary
Despite Peters' struggles over the last two seasons, he's an upgrade over what the Ravens had at the position in recent weeks.
With the absence of cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young, Anthony Averett and Maurice Canady have played an increased number of defensive snaps. Both experienced their fair share of missteps in coverage, particularly the former, who's in his second year out of Alabama.
Young may miss the entire season with a herniated disc in his neck. Smith doesn't have a timetable to return from a Grade 2 MCL sprain.
The Ravens certainly needed reinforcements for a pass defense that's allowed just six touchdowns but ranks 25th in yards allowed.
Peters isn't going to blanket the opposing team's best wide receivers at all times, but he can force turnovers and help the defense off the field on crucial downs. Most importantly, the Ravens can reduce snaps for one of their least productive cover men and move Brandon Carr to the slot for a solid three-man group that also includes Marlon Humphrey.
Loser: CB Jimmy Smith
Among the Ravens' veteran cornerbacks, Smith has the most to lose because of his absence. He's in a contract year and has only played one game this season.
If or when he returns, he'll likely settle for a rotational role in the secondary behind Humphrey, Peters and Carr. Sure, the 31-year-old provides versatility, but the Ravens acquired a cornerback with more than enough playmaking ability to keep him on the field for most of the snaps.
In addition to the low-risk, high-reward move for Peters, Humphrey seems like a rising star at the position, leading the team in pass deflections (seven) and interceptions (two). Carr doesn't jump off the screen, but he's a steady veteran with six interceptions and 26 pass breakups since he signed with the Ravens in 2017.
Once Smith is able to suit up, it's hard to see where he'll find defensive snaps within a decent secondary.
Winner: CB Tre Herndon
Here's an unheralded winner following Tuesday's trade action. In Ramsey's absence, Tre Herndon has started on the boundary. He's recorded 16 solo tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass breakups.
In his second term out of Vanderbilt, Herndon has shown some flashes in coverage. Although he's a bit short on impact plays, the Jaguars pass defense hasn't totally folded with him in Ramsey's place.
With Ramsey headed to Los Angeles, Herndon will have a chance to at least keep showing what he can do in coverage. If he develops into a solid starter, Jacksonville may not need to use a high draft pick to replace its former top cornerback.
In Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints, Herndon led the Jaguars in total tackles (nine) and solo takedowns (six). Going forward, it's his time to shine.