Trading Jalen Ramsey would be a big mistake by the Rams

The Los Angeles Rams are entering a crucial offseason, With no first-round pick, very limited cap space and a bunch of positions to address, it’s going to be a challenge to fill out their roster with quality starters across the board.

One way they can both add draft capital and cap space is by trading one of their biggest stars. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler talked to executives around the league and there’s a belief that the Rams could trade Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey or Leonard Floyd. One AFC executive specifically mentioned Ramsey as someone he thinks the team would be open to moving.

If the Rams do go down that path, it would be a huge mistake.

Even with Ramsey on the roster last season, the Rams had a revolving door at cornerback, failing to find any sort of consistency alongside their top DB. Troy Hill ran hot and cold, David Long Jr. was benched, Derion Kendrick gave up too many big plays and Cobie Durant only came on late in the year.

Hill and Long will both be free agents this offseason, too, and the Rams may not re-sign them. They probably shouldn’t.

Very simply, they don’t have the depth at cornerback to make up for a potential loss of Ramsey, even if Long and Hill return. Can you really count on either of those players to give you 17 quality starts? Does Kendrick, a sixth-round pick, have the speed and coverage skills to be a consistent starter? Robert Rochell played a whopping 26 defensive snaps in his second season, struggling to carve out a role for himself.

Say the Rams do trade Ramsey and only bring back Hill of the two free-agent corners. That leaves them with Hill, Durant, Kendrick and Rochell as the top four cornerbacks. Obviously, there’s the draft and free agency, too. But you aren’t going to find a top-end corner like Ramsey, no matter what you get for him in return.

Ramsey is unquestionably one of the best cornerbacks in the game right now and should get the Rams at least a first-round pick, but how much more than that? Even if it’s just a first- and a third-round pick, the Rams aren’t going to find a player of his caliber with those picks.

I realize the cost-effectiveness of having a rookie on a four-year deal, but there’s more value in having a proven player instead of an unknown prospect who may not develop into a solid starter until Year 3 or 4. That’s exactly the philosophy the Rams have used up to this point, often trading picks for established players like Ramsey, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks and Von Miller.

There is a salary cap benefit to trading Ramsey, but not a huge one – unless the Rams wait until after June 1. If they trade him before June, he’d only free up $5.6 million in cap space. Instead of paying him $25.2 million in 2023, they’d pay $19.6 million in dead space and save $5.6 million.

If he’s traded after June 1, the Rams would free up $17 million. That’s a large sum of money, but they also wouldn’t be able to spend that money until free agency is over and done with. For a team that’s built to win now and potentially go on one more run with Sean McVay in 2023, is freeing up cap space by trading Ramsey really the best move?

Between the lack of cornerback depth and the limited cap savings the Rams would see this year if he’s traded before June 1, moving Ramsey seems like it would be a bad decision.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire