As the Antonio Brown saga continues to permeate the NFL landscape, it appears another saga is brewing in the Southeastern region of the league.
Jalen Ramsey, the uber-talented cornerback of the Jacksonville Jaguars, requested a trade after Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans that dropped the Jags to 0-2 on the season. The news has all involved with a cornerback-needy team - fans, coaches, GMs, etc - searching for ways to get him on their team.
Our own Jon Marchant wrote a column yesterday asking if the Bucs could make a move for arguably the NFL’s best corner, but I’m here to tell you why they shouldn’t make the move.
I know, I’m a wet blanket. But it’s for your own good. I promise.
1. It’s too much of an investment.....and the Bucs don’t have any money.
Nor do they have any room for error when it comes to roster management.
It’s been reported that the Jags want at least one first-round pick, but that’s all that would be required of the team that acquires Ramsey. He’s made it clear that he wants to be paid - and soon. Not only did he arrive to Jags’ camp in a Brinks truck, but three of the four players taken ahead of him in the 2016 NFL Draft have already received big paydays. Even Jaylon Smith, Michael Thomas, and his own teammate Myles Jack have been paid, and they were taken in the second round, whereas Ramsey was a top-5 pick.
Before they even get to a conversation about an extension, the Bucs would have to figure out how they could afford Ramsey just for 2019. Tampa Bay currently sits at 27th in the league with a little over $3.2 million in cap room. Ramsey’s cap number for 2019 is a bit over $7.4 million. I’m no Harvard grad, but that ain’t gonna work, folks.
Tampa Bay would obviously have to make a roster move - or moves - while sacrificing valuable depth that has already been through the rigors of the preseason and the first two games of the regular season. The Bucs already have questionable depth on the roster. It wouldn’t make much sense to create even more holes.
But let’s say they find a way to make it work for 2019 and beyond (I’m looking at you, Jason Pierre-Paul). How much money would Ramsey want? Well, according to spotrac.com, Darius Slay carries the largest cap hit for 2019 at a little over $15.9 million, but Stephon Gilmore becomes the top guy in 2020 with his $18,670,833 cap hit.
There’s plenty of reason to think you may be paying him $20 million/year by the time everything gets worked out. If we are talking about giving up at least one first-round pick - Pittsburgh had to give up a first, a fifth, and a sixth for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is a less talented player - then we are likely talking about a package of higher picks for Ramsey.
The Steelers received a fourth and seventh from the Dolphins, but for this scenario to work in both the short- and long-term, the Bucs need cheap, talented players and they won’t be able to obtain said players without high draft picks.
The Bucs also have other players of their own that they are going to have extend or give a second contract to soon.....
2. What about Winston (and others)?
With a little over $64 million in the “bank”, the Bucs currently have the 13th-most cap room in 2020. but the obvious question is, how much will Winston cost them?
Look, unless Winston just completely bombs this year, the odds are very high that he returns in 2019. Bruce Arians loves Winston. He’s been on record saying so and it’s nearly inconceivable that Arians parts ways with him after just one year unless something very dramatic happens.
With that being said, it’s safe to assume that Winston will cost at least $30 million to quarterback the Bucs in 2020. Even if you franchise him, it’s going to cost over $30 million. And again, unless he bombs, someone will pay him that much in free agency, because that’s just how the quarterback market works in the NFL. So, the Bucs will risk losing him if they don’t pony up.
Combine that with Ramsey’s hit of $14 million, and you’re now left with about $20 million in cap. Set aside another $8-$9 million for the draft and now you’re down to about $10 million.
Thats not enough money for a team that is going to definitely need a right tackle and at least one edge rusher in 2020. There will be other positions of need, too, but those two spots will be dire.
Tampa Bay will also have Chris Godwin and VHIII entering the final years of their contracts in 2020. If they play well, would the Bucs be able to afford them, too?
And keep in mind, the Bucs will have to balance all of this on top of the fact that.....
3. Jalen Ramsey is a HUGE risk
No risk it, no biscuit. Right?
I totally agree, but sometimes, the quality of the biscuit matters.
The Bucs could either receive a soft, warm, fluffy, golden biscuit or they could get served one of those lumps of coal they sell at your local Bojangles’.
It’s a toss-up. Only Ramsey knows why he is truly unhappy in Jacksonville, but he has publicly stated that he doesn’t like the way he’s currently being used by the coaching staff. Losing games has been an issue too, and may in fact be the root cause of all of this.
Guess what the Bucs don’t do? If you said “win games”, you’d be absolutely correct!
If Arians and co. can’t reverse the franchise’s misfortunes of late, then there is no guarantee that Ramsey wouldn’t lash out. It’s too much of a risk.
What if he decides to hold out next year, complicating things with Winston’s deal? He could force the Bucs into an even more dire cap-situation by demanding a raise or he could skip games, basically negating the value the Bucs gave up when they traded for him.
He could create distractions by saying things like he won’t be returning to the team. Or by yelling at coaches. Or by bad-mouthing other players (which was pretty awesome, but still, it’ll come around to bite you, eventually).
And think about this: If Ramsey were really worth it, why did the Jags extend Myles Jack instead of Ramsey? Sure, Jack’s contract expired after this year, but wouldn’t one assume Ramsay has much more value?