THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams are no strangers to blockbuster trades.
On Tuesday, the Rams made a series of transactions that once again captured the attention of the NFL, as they sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens and, later in the day, acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The moves addressed long-term concerns on the defense, but leave the team without any first-round draft capital until 2022, which could be cause for concern after a 3-3 start this season, and an offensive line that appears in need of established reinforcements.
In exchange for Peters, who was playing this season on an expiring rookie contract, the Rams received linebacker Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick. By trading Peters, the Rams receive compensation for a player who did not appear to fit into their long-term future and cleared salary-cap space to bring in Ramsey.
The price tag for Ramsey, an All Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection, was significant. In exchange for the former first-round pick, the Rams sent first-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-round pick in 2021, to the Jaguars.
Ramsey, who intercepted nine passes and has returned one for a touchdown since he entered the league in 2016, remains on his rookie deal, which runs through the 2020 season and is scheduled to pay him $2.35 million this season and $13.7 million in 2021.
A source told ESPN that the Rams intend to sign Ramsey to a long-term extension and that Ramsey, who has been inactive the last three games with the Jaguars because of a back issue, is expected to pass his physical and could be available as soon as Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
While Ramsey’s presence could immediately bolster a defense that also includes two-time defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, the compensation to acquire him means the Rams could go five years, unless they are able to trade up, without a first-round draft pick.
Quarterback Jared Goff in 2016 was the last player the Rams selected with a first-round pick. Their 2017 pick was sent to the Tennessee Titans as part of a trade that allowed them to move up the board to select Goff and their 2018 pick was sent to the New England Patriots in exchange for receiver Brandin Cooks. Last April, the Rams traded out of the first round.
A lack of first-round selections could mean that the Rams will explore trade options to further bolster their offensive line, though enticing trade capital could be thin. Or, perhaps, the Rams intend to develop their own young players to protect Goff and create space in the run game.
Jack Del Rio likes the Rams’ acquisition of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, likening his on-field impact to Deion Sanders and Champ Bailey.
So far this season the line has appeared to struggle and questions remain about the development of young players selected in mid-to-late rounds, including center Brian Allen and left guard Joe Noteboom, who replaced veterans John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold.
After tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee, Noteboom has been lost for the season. The former third-round pick from TCU also is the heir apparent to left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who is in his 14th season and playing on an expiring contract.
Rams coach Sean McVay said the position would be evaluated going forward, but that the team would look to fill it internally, while bringing in outside veteran depth.
Rookie David Edwards, a sixth-round pick from Wisconsin, is a candidate take over as the left guard starter.
Rookie Bobby Evans, a third-round pick from Oklahoma, is on the roster but coaches have expressed that his development has proceeded at a slower pace. The Rams also signed center Coleman Shelton, an undrafted free agent in 2018 from Washington, earlier this season.
Corbett, listed as a center with the Browns, is expected to provide backup on the Rams interior. A second-round pick in 2018, he appeared in 14 games with the Browns.
NFLPA seeks opt-out clauses for at-risk players, conditional stipends, source says
The NFL and NFLPA continue to negotiate terms for a return to work and players are requesting financial backing in case they decide to sit out the season.
Among the requests in the players’ recent proposal to the league, according to a source involved:
An opt-out clause for at-risk players to receive salary (but not bonuses) if one decides not to play.
An opt-out clause for players with at-risk families to earn an accrued season and benefits if they decide not to play.
An opt-out clause for players who leave the team after reporting (terms uncertain).
A $250,000 stipend guaranteed to all players if they show up to camp and everything is shut down because of COVID-19 concerns. That amount rises to $500,000 if the season starts, only to be shut down.
The definition of “at-risk” is part of the discussion, and procedures for applying for medical opt-outs are not yet finalized.
The league’s June 7 memo listed the following as considerations for high-risk individuals:
Players also want, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, no salary in escrow for 2020 and no reduction in the 2021 salary cap despite projected revenue loss, which they’d prefer to spread over multiple years.
A source told Graziano there are no further conversations scheduled between the NFL and NFLPA on Wednesday, after the two sides talked each of the past two days.
Chris Jones’ deal with Chiefs the latest move toward a dynasty
The headline-snaring contract numbers handed out by the Kansas City Chiefs are these: $503 million over 12 years for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and as much as $85 million over four years for defensive tackle Chris Jones.
But the more important numbers for the Chiefs are these: 24 and 26. Those are the ages for Mahomes and Jones, respectively, when they put ink to paper — meaning both will play the primes of their careers in Kansas City.
Jones and Mahomes are just the latest important young players the Chiefs have invested in heavily. The Super Bowl champions have all of their core players now signed through at least 2021 while playing in the primes of their careers, setting up a possible dynasty run. Reciever Tyreek Hill is 26, defensive end Frank Clark 27, safety Tyrann Mathieu 28.
Throw in other good, young players such as receiver Mecole Hardman (22) and safety Juan Thornhill (25) and it’s reasonable to conclude the Chiefs will be on the top of their game not just again in 2020 but for years to come.
It’s why the Chiefs’ unofficial mantra this offseason has been “Run it back.”
— Chris Jones (@StoneColdJones) July 14, 2020
Many of the Chiefs’ other top players also have at least one more seasons in Kansas City. Players such as receiver Sammy Watkins (27), running back Damien Williams (28) and cornerbacks Charvarius Ward (24) and Bashaud Breeland (28) are in the final years of their deals. But the Chiefs have already prepared for their possible departures. Hardman could eventually replace Watkins. First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire could replace Williams. The Chiefs took two cornerbacks in the lower rounds of the 2020 NFL draft but they believe they got bargains in L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes.
As for Jones, the Chiefs had to keep him off the free-agent market by naming him as their franchise player, iron out a deal with Mahomes and beat the Wednesday deadline before reaching a long-term deal. But they eventually felt comfortable making him their third player behind Clark and Mahomes to get a contract with at least $60 million guaranteed. The Chiefs are the only team with three such contracts.
They gave Jones one of those contracts because they allowed six more points per game without an injured Jones last season than when he was in the lineup. They did it because opposing quarterbacks had a 32 QBR against the Chiefs when Jones was in the game and a 59 QBR when he wasn’t. They did it because he led them in sacks in each of the last two seasons.
But they paid Jones as they did mostly because he’s only 26 and he should continue as one of the NFL’s best defensive players for the life of this deal.
Dak Prescott extension with Cowboys unlikely before deadline, sources say
Barring unforeseen momentum over the next 24 hours, the Cowboys anticipate Prescott playing on a $31.4 million franchise tag.
Sources told ESPN’s Todd Archer on Monday that no talks were scheduled before the deadline between the Cowboys and Prescott’s agent, Todd France.
Prescott signed the exclusive franchise tag tender on June 22, which guaranteed he would not miss any of training camp — whenever it will begin. Without a long-term deal by 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, Prescott will have to play the season on the tag and the sides can’t talk again about a long-term deal until January.
If the Cowboys were to put the tag on Prescott again in 2021, he would make $37.7 million.
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