For nearly a month, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan priced every team in the NFL out of the Jalen Ramsey trade market. Right up to the point when the Los Angeles Rams splurged themselves right back into it.
But when the Ramsey deal finally came together this week for Khan and the Jaguars — netting the team two first-round draft picks and a fourth-rounder on Tuesday — league sources familiar with the deal said it really came down to a pair of factors: The team owner had to stay the course with the current front-office structure; and then he had to refuse to cave on a rich asking price until one of a handful of interested teams reached a sense of urgency.
Shad Khan tried to broker peace between Jalen Ramsey and Tom Coughlin
Interestingly, sources who spoke to Yahoo Sports on Tuesday evening said that Khan had a firm intent as late as last week to work out the problems between Ramsey and Jaguars executive vice president Tom Coughlin. This despite Ramsey repeatedly telling the Jaguars he wanted to be traded, while simultaneously appearing to hunt for reasons to stay off the field without exhibiting behavior that could be considered “conduct detrimental to the team.” Sources said Khan believed that if he could get Coughlin and Ramsey together, the team owner was capable of mediating the situation and repairing a rift that deepened during a September meeting between Coughlin and Ramsey that went sideways. The fallout from that meeting apparently not only triggered Ramsey asking for a trade, but also put Coughlin into a mindset that he was willing to make it happen for the right price.
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Sources said there were also other driving forces behind Khan’s motivations. First, he was reticent to lose Ramsey, a cornerback he firmly believed was one of the best defensive talents in football and also worthy of a massive contract extension. And second, Khan felt like the teams inquiring about Ramsey’s services were initially trying to get Ramsey at a discount — despite other high-level talents like edge rusher Khalil Mack and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil setting the trade standard at multiple draft picks (including at least two first-rounders).
If teams weren’t at least willing to come to the table with the proper offer, Khan wasn’t going to entertain a Ramsey deal. Instead, he was going to be patient and try to repair the situation. That was a reality that frustrated some of the teams that had called the Jaguars, believing they were motivated to trade Ramsey initially and then suddenly not motivated when Khan took the controls. Among the franchises that had talks of substance with Jacksonville in September were the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints. In September, none were willing to part with the kind of draft haul Khan sought — a price tag that wasn’t just about receiving two first-round picks, but was also about the potential quality of those two first-rounders.
So what changed?
Rams’ draft offer was too rich to pass up
It’s unclear what put Khan over the top this week, but sources said it became apparent within the organization that Ramsey wasn’t going to step on the field for the Jaguars before the Oct. 29 trade deadline. And that reality was going to make the situation with Coughlin only worse. All of which made the decision to work with the Rams on a deal that much easier. Particularly when Los Angeles fell to 3-3 and had a whiff of desperation — not to mention the look of a team that could also continue to struggle in some areas even after acquiring Ramsey.
Once Khan knew he likely had his maximum offer on the table for Ramsey — and also knew that Ramsey’s relationship with Coughlin was going to get worse as the cornerback continued to miss games — all that remained was making a tough decision. Ultimately, this was about the picks and Khan’s unwillingness to fire Coughlin for a single player who couldn’t get along with him.
What does deal mean for Tom Coughlin?
Sources familiar with the rift between Coughlin and Ramsey also believe that the trade isn’t a signal that Coughlin’s future is safe. The sources said that even with the picks in hand, Khan remains conflicted about dealing one of the best players drafted during his era as the Jags owner.
All of which means the pressure is on Coughlin to prove that he can steer a 2-4 start back toward something positive in 2019. Or in the best-case scenario, recapture some of that spark from the 2017 season — which seems like it happened a lifetime ago. Whatever Coughlin does from this day forward and however he does it, Ramsey won’t be a part of it.
It’s unlikely two first-round picks will ever make Khan forget that.
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