Wednesday's NFL: Jalen Ramsey gets five-year, $105 million deal with Rams
Thousand Oaks, Calif. — Jalen Ramsey showed up at Jacksonville Jaguars training camp last year in an armored bank truck.
A year later on the opposite coast, he's going to need that ride.
Ramsey will become the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history after agreeing to a five-year, $105 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday.
The extension includes $71.2 million in guaranteed money, the most ever given to a defensive back, according to Ramsey's agent, David Mulugheta. Ramsey will average $21 million per season, another record for a cornerback or safety.
The deal is the culmination of a strong 11-month relationship between Ramsey and the Rams, who traded two first-round draft picks to acquire the shutdown corner from Jacksonville.
"It's a well-earned contract," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "I know it's something that he was glad to get out of the way as well."
Ramsey will make $13.7 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract, and the new deal keeps him with the Rams through 2025. Sticking to their weekly media availability schedule, the Rams don't plan to make Ramsey available to discuss the contract until Friday. He took the field at the Rams' training complex a bit later than his teammates for Wednesday's workout.
The extension is another massive commitment by the Rams, who have handed out the largest contracts in NFL history at the time for a quarterback (Jared Goff), a running back (Todd Gurley), any defensive player (Aaron Donald) and a defensive back in a major spending spree since July 2018. The Rams made the Super Bowl for the 2018 season but lost to New England.
Los Angeles acquired Ramsey from Jacksonville last October after the cornerback requested a trade. Ramsey had one interception and four pass deflections in nine games with the Rams while earning his third straight Pro Bowl selection.
Ramsey arrived in Los Angeles with a reputation for contentiousness forged during the last years of his tenure with Tom Coughlin's dysfunctional Jaguars. The Rams have had an entirely different experience with Ramsey.
"Even going back to when he first got here, the way that he practiced, the reception to coaching was (great)," McVay said. "And how he led from afar, being able to get guys together this offseason, taking ownership of a bunch of different things, understanding the big picture of the defense."
That exemplary effort continued in the coronavirus-influenced offseason. He vowed not to hold out, took leadership in team workouts and even devoted himself to providing tips to the Rams' receivers.
"The more I get to know him, the more I appreciate him," McVay said. "He's extremely intelligent and aware of everything that's going on. He knows the game."
Ramsey has only 10 career interceptions, and he has never been in the top 10 in interceptions during his four NFL seasons. That's largely because quarterbacks stay away from his side of the field, and Ramsey is also a willing hitter with at least 50 tackles in each of his four NFL seasons.
"There's a competitive endurance that certain people have to not take snaps off," McVay said. "Especially in those instances where you are that kind of elite player, you don't get a lot of action. But when you do get that action, you want to maximize those opportunities. Aaron has that, too."
Ramsey is now officially a cornerstone of the Rams' revamped defense alongside Donald, who has a six-year, $135 million contract through 2024.
Von Miller update
Von Miller was primed for a monster comeback in 2020 after packing on the muscle this spring, doubling down on his leadership duties after watching Kobe Bryant's funeral and Michael Jordan's documentary, then absolutely destroying offensive drills every day at training camp.
It all crumbled when the Super Bowl 50 MVP suffered a serious ankle injury at an indoor practice Tuesday, almost certainly costing him a chance to atone for last season's drop-off that helped fuel his offseason rededication.
"It was just a normal play," coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday. "He just rushed around the edge and never hit the ground, never looked bad. If you saw the video you'd think nothing happened, but it did."
Miller is seeking additional medical advice before undergoing surgery and is expected to miss the season.
"I'm sad that he's not going to get the season that he worked for because it would have been fun to watch," Fangio said. "For me. For him. For you. For everybody."
Malik Reed and Jeremiah Attaochu, who filled the void when Miller's pass rushing partner Bradley Chubb tore an ACL a year ago, will share the workload now.
Brady vs. Saints
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore suspects he and his defensive teammates are in for some surprises against Tom Brady and the new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Normally, division rivals are relatively familiar with one another. But there is no game video showing how ex-Patriots star Brady, unretired tight end Rob Gronkowski and newly acquired running back Leonard Fournette fit into Bucs coach Bruce Arians’ offensive system.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the preseason schedule and now comes the regular-season opener on Sunday, when the Saints will field the very first defense to test Tampa Bay’s revamped attack.
“We just know it’s Tom Brady,” Lattimore said. “He’s going to have something that we haven’t seen from Tampa Bay.
“We’ve just got to be prepared and got to be ready for anything,” Lattimore added. “We just don’t know. We just go out there and play, and when we see it, we’ve got to play it well.”
Rodgers and LaFleur
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says all those Zoom sessions during this unusual offseason improved his comfort level with the offense and his working relationship with second-year coach Matt LaFleur.
Rodgers hopes to demonstrate the benefits of those conversations when the Packers open the season Sunday at Minnesota.
“The Zoom meetings this offseason, I think, really helped our relationship to progress to where we’re hashtag #FriendGoals,” Rodgers quipped Wednesday.
Rodgers said that he and LaFleur started to understand each other better last season while helping Green Bay win the NFC North and reach the conference championship game.
LaFleur had taken over for Mike McCarthy, who had coached Green Bay throughout Rodgers’ tenure as the Packers’ starting quarterback.
“It was going to be a work in progress when you have guys from different types of backgrounds and systems, but I really felt like the communication with us was so strong,” Rodgers said. “It was really non-stop. We would have conversations early in the morning and a lot of conversations late at night about things we were thinking about – him asking my opinion about things, me kind of bouncing things off of him and trying to see where he was coming from.”