Jalen Ramsey

Tom Brady Coming Out Of Retirement, Will Rejoin Bucs

It looks like the Buccaneers’ quarterback questions have been answered for now. Get comfortable, Kyle Trask, you’ve got a bit longer to wait. After 40 days of retirement, Tom Brady has announced he will return for his 23rd season of NFL football in a tweet this evening. He announced he has unfinished business in Tampa after the team lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year to the eventual-Super Bowl Champion Rams. 

Rumors of a Brady unretirement had persisted since his February 1st announcement. Brady even hinted at the possibility of a Favre-like return, coming back just in time for training camp. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, made it very clear that they had no intention of allowing Brady to play elsewhere for the 2022 NFL Season. It turns out, they have nothing to worry about for now. Brady cited his love for his teammates in his unretirement announcement.

Some details will need to be hashed out as Brady still had four years on his contract, with all years after 2022 being voided upon his retirement. Past that, Tampa Bay has several offensive pieces set to become unrestricted free agents including center Ryan Jensen, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, and running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, and Giovani Bernard. If they are going to attempt another glory run, these loose ends will need to be tied up.

In response to the news, no one is more happy to see the quarterback return than Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey who was set to spend eternity as the last person to have Tom Brady throw a touchdown on them. On the other hand, no one is less happy to see the quarterback return than the unfortunate big-spender who just dropped $518,000 at an auction in a bid to receive Tom Brady’s final touchdown ball. Looks like there will be many other balls getting thrown past many other defensive backs before Brady retires again.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Jets, Douglas, Jackson

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made comments that all but guaranteed that an agreement for a new stadium for the Bills will be made soon, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Highmark Stadium (previously Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and New Era Field) has been the home of the Bills since 1973. The Bills’ current lease on Highmark expires in 2023 and the franchise has been pushing with many government entities to build them a shiny, new stadium. The team has used the very real looming threat that there are plenty of other markets in the country that can support an NFL franchise.

Hochul commented on that threat saying, “That’s why we’re negotiating very intently, to make sure we have the right outcome for this community.” The new stadium will partially be funded by the public to the tune of about $850MM. The Governor claims that a deal will be done by April 1, in time for the annual budget.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple of notes that keep us in the Empire State:

  • The Jets are planning to use this offseason to add some weapons to the roster for quarterback Zach Wilson. They currently have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore sitting atop the depth chart. They would love to bring back Braxton Berrios as a fourth-receiver/gadget player and they haven’t yet given up on Denzel Mims. Still, New York will have ample opportunity to add a potential No. 1 receiver to the roster, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. The free agent market is home to many household names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, and, potentially, Amari Cooper. Players like Calvin Ridley and Cole Beasley have been rumored to be available via trade. The 2022 NFL Draft is also so rich in talented receivers that many believe some first round talent could fall to the second round where the Jets have two high picks, if they don’t choose to take a top prospect like Garrett Wilson or Drake London with the 10th overall pick.
  • That being said, Vacchiano also reports that, despite their vast spending ability, general manager Joe Douglas has been preaching the maintenance of financial flexibility. Though the Jets rank in the Top 5 in the NFL in salary cap space, Douglas rejected the notion that their $50-60MM in cap space will be dedicated to big spending in free agency. Douglas acknowledged free agency as just one of “a lot of different tools to improve your roster” and pointed to the Bengals as an example of responsible free agent spending. “I think Cincy did great in free agency last year,” he said. “They didn’t blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys who fit exactly what they wanted to do.”
  • According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, Patriots’ cornerback JC Jackson is likely headed for free agency with some lofty expectations. While Jackson still likes the Patriots, money is a big factor for the 26-year-old. Giardi claims that Jackson is strictly seeking compensation similar to Jalen Ramsey. New England won’t bring that money to the table and it sounds like they won’t be utilizing their franchise tag on Jackson, either. That information could lead to a tag and trade situation if other teams aren’t willing to shell out for Jackson in free agency.

AFC Rumors: Jackson, Ravens, Jaguars, Chargers

The Patriots’ defense struggled in their Wild Card loss to the division rival Bills. That struggle could perhaps have a noticeable effect on cornerback J.C. Jackson‘s future. An undrafted free agent in 2018, Jackson was on a one-year extension this season, meaning last week’s loss is the last game he will have played before potentially hitting the free agent market.

The game was possibly Jackson’s worst in his four-year career, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN, who called out Jackson’s technique playing the ball, coverage breakdowns, and overall effort. Reiss went on to deliberate on the odds of New England tagging the second-team All-Pro, which currently projects as a $17.28MM tag. Reiss believes that Jackson’s playoff performance could prevent New England from using their franchise tag on him at all. The Patriots could always agree on an extension with Jackson, but after an impressive, healthy season, the 26-year old will likely want to test the free agency waters.

Here are a few more notes from the AFC, starting with an item out of the North:

  • We got a bit of peek behind the scenes from Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager who tweeted out that, after some debate on who to take with their first of two third-round picks, the Rams got intel that Baltimore planned to draft Cooper Kupp at 74th overall. The Rams selected the now first-team All-Pro and Baltimore used their pick on current Steeler Chris Wormley.
  • Jalen Ramsey spoke recently with Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic about the events that lead to his exit from Jacksonville. Rodrigue did a deep-dive on Ramsey’s journey and the three-time All-Pro expanded on how undervalued he felt by the Jaguars’ staff and detailed an explosive meeting with the team’s top brass that lead to his eventual trade request.
  • In a tweet earlier this week, LA Daily News reporter Gilbert Manzano gave an account from Chargers’ general manager Tom Telesco on the pending free agency of wide receiver Mike Williams. Telesco praised Williams, who topped 1,000 yards receiving for the second time in his career this season, calling him a big part of the team but didn’t discuss how he planned to move forward on contract talks with the fifth-year Charger.
  • Also, in Chargers’ news, Giants’ assistant linebackers and special teams coach Anthony Blevins was interviewed to become Los Angeles’s new special teams coordinator, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN. Giants’ special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey also met with Los Angeles and is being considered for the position.

Rams Place Jalen Ramsey, Tyler Higbee On COVID-19 List

The Rams have placed cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Dont’e Deayon , along with tight end Tyler Higbee on the COVID-19 reserve list, per a club announcement. As well, Robert Rochell has been placed on Injured Reserve. With that, all four players will be ineligible for tonight’s marquee matchup against the Cardinals. 

The Cardinals can effectively lock up the NFC West crown with a win tonight, leaving the Rams to jockey for Wild Card placement. If Arizona was to complete the season sweep of L.A., they would remain atop the NFC at 11-2, while the loss would drop the Rams to 8-5.

Ramsey’s absence is a huge loss for a secondary that will be facing a Cardinals attack which has recently gotten back to full strength with a healthy Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Ramsey has 59 tackles and three interception in 2021. Without him, Darious Williams will be forced into an even heavier workload, as will David Long Jr., as the Rams’ cornerback room is suddenly dangerously thin.

Offensively, the loss of Higbee will be felt in the Rams’ passing attack. He had produced 44 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns so far this year. Already without wide receiver Robert Woods for the remainder of 2021, even more snaps and targets will likely be coming the way of recently-acquired Odell Beckham Jr. along with sophomore Van Jefferson.

The Cardinals won the first matchup of the season, 37-20, in Week 4. Even more than initially thought, Beckham along with Von Miller – both of whom were acquired after that game – will be counted on for the Rams.

This Date In Transactions History: Jalen Ramsey Requests Trade

The Jalen Ramsey saga in Jacksonville started in earnest on this date in 2019. On September 16, 2019, the Jaguars star cornerback requested a trade.

Before we discuss the trade demand, let’s review a bit. The fifth-overall selection in the 2016 draft quickly emerged as a star in Jacksonville. Following a rookie campaign that saw him earn PFWA All-Rookie Team honors, Ramsey took it to another level in 2017, earning a first-team All-Pro nod after finishing with 63 tackles, 17 passes defended, and four interceptions. Ramsey made his second-straight Pro Bowl in 2018, cementing himself as one of the league’s top defensive backs.

However, things weren’t especially rosy in Jacksonville. First, there was the 2018 team-imposed suspension. Then, following that 2018 campaign, the two sides started firing shots regarding an extension; Ramsey said he wanted a new deal, the Jaguars said “nah, not right now,” and then Ramsey warned that he wasn’t going to give any future discounts. While the cornerback was locked in through 2020 after the Jaguars picked up his fifth-year option, the cornerback started floating out potential suitors as early as August 2019.

Then came the bombshell. On September 16, 2019, Ramsey officially requested a trade from the Jaguars. While the defensive back was still upset about his lack of an extension, he apparently focused his anger on the coaching staff. Tensions reportedly boiled over between Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone, as the player wanted to play man-to-man vs. the Jaguars’ preferred zone scheme. So, with Ramsey playing in an undesirable system on a rookie contract, he decided to ask out.

It sounded like a trade wouldn’t take too long to pull off. The Jaguars were open to trading their star defensive back, although they were requesting a bounty in return. A number of teams were naturally connected to Ramsey, with one report literally indicating that every team was interested.

There was little progress the week following the trade request. And there was little progress after that. At one point, Jaguars owner Shad Khan revealed that he was willing to give Ramsey a record-breaking contract, which was either a last-ditch effort to keep the player in Jacksonville or a last-ditch effort to save face. Ramsey temporarily continued playing for Jacksonville, but he eventually left the team to attend the birth of his daughter. Ramsey wouldn’t play for the Jaguars again. The team continued to hold out hope that Ramsey would change his mind, and the cornerback did eventually return to practice, but the organization finally found a trade partner for the disgruntled star.

On October 15, almost a month following the request, the Jaguars shipped Ramsey to the Rams. In exchange, Jacksonville received a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

Things ended up working out for Ramsey. He eventually got a hefty five-year, $105MM extension ($71.2MM guaranteed) from the Rams, and he earned a Pro Bowl nod and a first-team All-Pro selection during his first full season in Los Angeles.

It remains to be seen if the deal will work out for the Jaguars. 2020 first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson had an underwhelming rookie campaign while 2021 first-round pick Travis Etienne will miss his entire rookie season thanks to injury. The front office used that fourth-round pick in a trade that netted the draft picks that turned into defensive end Jordan Smith and wideout Jalen Camp (who’s already been waived).

At one point in time, it looked like Ramsey could go down as one of the best players in Jaguars history. However, the cornerback drastically changed the course of his career on this day in 2019.

Jalen Ramsey: “I Highly Doubt” Deshaun Watson Plays For Texans

Deshaun Watson isn’t playing around, according to pal Jalen Ramsey. In an interview with the Huddle & Flow podcast (Twitter link), the Rams cornerback said there’s no real chance for reconciliation between the quarterback and the Texans. 

[RELATED: The Only NFL Players With No-Trade Clauses]

I highly doubt [Deshaun Watson] will suit up in a Texans’ uniform again,” Ramsey said. “He’s extremely serious.”

It’s worth noting that Ramsey and Watson are both represented by David Mulugheta, so Ramsey has more insight than most on the situation. Ramsey also knows a thing or two about forcing his way out of a toxic situation. The former face of the Jaguars ultimately got the trade he wanted, and he seems to think that Watson will also get his wish.

Watson is just one of eight known NFL players to hold a no-trade clause, which gives him extra leverage. So far, the Texans have not budged on their position. That hasn’t stopped other clubs from calling, including the Panthers, Broncos, and Dolphins. The Jets and 49ers have also been heavily linked to the star QB. According to a recent PFR poll, only ~14% of you believe that he’ll wind up staying with the Texans.

Updated 2021 NFL Draft Order

With the Divisional Round in the books, the 2021 NFL Draft order is mostly complete. The Rams, Browns, Ravens, and Saints now have their draft spots locked in, though the Rams’ first-round pick belongs to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. The Rams traded those rights to Jacksonville as a part of the Jalen Ramsey blockbuster.

Here’s the updated draft order, through the top 28:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints

NFC West Notes: Ramsey, 49ers, Seahawks

The 49ers have been accustomed to dealing with running back unavailability during Kyle Shanahan‘s tenure, but Jerick McKinnon is on track to make his 49er debut at long last. However, Tevin Coleman‘s status is now uncertain. The second-year 49ers back did not practice Friday because of the poor air quality in San Francisco, which has been affected by the recent wildfires raging in many west coast areas. Coleman, who has a sickle cell trait, also did not finish a practice earlier in training camp due to poor air quality, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Although the 49ers traded Matt Breida, they still have McKinnon, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson on their active roster.

Here is the latest from the NFC West, moving first to the Rams’ resetting of the cornerback market.

  • The Rams were slightly over the 2020 salary cap earlier this week, but their Jalen Ramsey extension solved that problem. They created $7.5MM through the Ramsey deal, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets. Ramsey’s cornerback-record five-year, $105MM contract calls for only a $1.2MM base salary in 2020 — down from $13.7MM. The ensuing years, however, include base salaries of $17.5MM (2021), $15MM (’22), $17MM (’23), $14.5MM (’24) and $15.5MM (’25), Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. This contract’s rolling guarantee structure will convert injury guarantees to full guarantees the year before, essentially tying Ramsey to Los Angeles’ payroll through at least 2024, Garafolo adds (via Twitter).
  • Rams free agent signing A’Shawn Robinson qualified for the high-risk $350K stipend as an opt-out player, but his agent and the team reached a compromise that allowed the defensive lineman to avoid the opt-out list. The Rams instead placed Robinson on the non-football injury list and are paying him $500K this year, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Robinson was on track to opt out. Even though he did not officially do so, his two-year contract will toll to 2021 if he does not play this season. Robinson will keep his $6MM signing bonus, but his $3MM 2020 base salary will toll to 2021, Breer adds. Robinson could, however, come off the NFI list and play by Week 10.
  • Seahawks special teams coordinator Brian Schneider took a leave of absence this week, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. Larry Izzo will take over in that role during his absence. Schneider has been with the Seahawks throughout Pete Carroll‘s tenure, following Carroll from USC to Seattle in 2010. Izzo is in his third season with the team.
  • Prior to roster cutdown day, the 49ers considered trading Ahkello Witherspoon, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Witherspoon was aware of the team’s effort, which did not end up producing a deal. The 49ers are set to be without Jason Verrett, who missed all of last season and has dealt with injuries throughout his career, Sunday due to a hamstring injury. Witherspoon is in line to serve as a key depth player to start the season. Emmanuel Moseley replaced him in the starting lineup during the playoffs. A fourth-year player, Witherspoon is set for unrestricted free agency in 2021.
  • The 49ers did not restructure Dee Ford‘s deal to set up a big move, John Lynch said (via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, on Twitter). The move, however, did create $9.5MM in cap space. That gave the team some breathing room; it holds $10.9MM in cap space as of Saturday. The move does, however, make Ford a more difficult cut in 2021. It would now cost the 49ers $14MM-plus in dead money to release the defensive end next year.

Rams Sign Jalen Ramsey To Extension

The Rams have locked down their shutdown corner. On Wednesday, the Rams announced a brand new five-year deal for Jalen Ramsey. It’s a five-year add-on worth $105MM, making Ramsey the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The pact, which averages out to $21MM per year, also comes with $71.2MM guaranteed at signing, another new record for the position. The deal comes after months of talks between the two sides, though recent word was that the talks were not moving in the right direction. Ultimately, the Rams were motivated to find middle ground, especially since they sent a wealth of draft capital to the Jaguars to acquire him.

The Rams shipped two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder to the Jaguars for Ramsey last October. Between his three games with the Jaguars and nine games with the Rams, Ramsey recorded just 50 tackles and one interception. He didn’t play up to his usual standards in L.A., but the belief is that he’ll play up to his whopping new deal.

Ramsey’s contract vaults him ahead of Tre’Davious White, who grabbed the mantle of highest-paid corner just days ago with $17.5MM/year. He also passed Byron Jones on a rocket ship for the most guaranteed cash paid to a cornerback. Jones, who inked his own sizable deal with the Dolphins earlier this year, secured roughly $57MM in guarantees.

Ramsey told the club that he wouldn’t hold out in 2020 if he didn’t have a new deal in place, but there were no promised made regarding a potential franchise tag in 2021. Without that safety net in place, the Rams did not want to roll the dice.

Rams, Jalen Ramsey Not Close On Extension

The Rams and cornerback Jalen Ramsey are not close to an agreement on a contract extension, per veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson (via Twitter). However, Anderson’s source notes that it’s still early in the process, thereby implying that there is no real tension between player and team at this time.

Of course, given that Los Angeles ponied up two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder to obtain the outspoken star last October, the club will do everything in its power to keep him around on a long-term basis. Ramsey, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2016 draft, did not maintain the same high level of play during after his trade to the Rams that he displayed during his 3+ years with the Jaguars, but there is no reason to believe that he cannot return to form and serve as one of the game’s top corners for years to come.

Indeed, Rams head coach Sean McVay recently indicated that he views Ramsey as a player who can reset the CB market, which certainly won’t hurt Ramsey’s leverage. Currently, Darius Slay is the leader in the cornerback clubhouse with an average annual value of $16.7MM, so Ramsey is likely shooting for at least a $17MM AAV. And given that he won’t turn 26 until October, he is likely eyeing the ~$57MM in guarantees that Byron Jones took home from the Dolphins this offseason.

The Rams’ cap space could be a complicating factor in negotiations. According to OverTheCap.com, LA has roughly $4MM of room right now. Ramsey is presently slated to take home a $13.7MM salary this season with a corresponding cap charge, and while an extension could theoretically bring that number down a bit, the team also has future salary cap concerns, exacerbated by the fact that the 2021 cap could decrease by as much as $23MM.

So talks could extend into the season, but look for the two sides to come to an agreement at some point before the end of the 2020 campaign.