Cornerback Jalen Ramsey officially is a member of the Rams. So how long will that continue?
Maybe not very long.
By giving up two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick to acquire Ramsey, the Rams supposedly want Ramsey for years to come. But they have Ramsey under contract for only the next 26 games, before the franchise-tag dance would begin. One former player who knows Ramsey believes that Ramsey may not be with the Rams for five or six years, or more.
“One thing is that Jalen is a businessman,” Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who like Ramsey played at Florida State, said on NFL Network. “Secondly, I don’t feel like the Rams are the Rams of old. Thirdly, taxes . . . Taxes in California, the cost of living in California is not feasible to a guy who’s just coming out of Florida. . . I don’t know if this is a situation that’s gonna last over a year. This may be for right now.”
Florida has no state income tax. In California, state taxes take 13.3 cents from every dollar earned.
This makes the decision to trade for Ramsey without a new deal even more surprising. He now has greater leverage in the contract talks to come; at a minimum he’s going to want the Rams to “gross up” his bonus and salary to compensate him for the difference between a state with no taxes and the state with the most.
Sanders definitely considered those factors when he became a free agent after the 1994 season. He said that the Raiders were the highest bidder, but that he took less from the Cowboys.
“I wanted to go to Texas,” Sanders said. “No state taxes there, baby.”
Apart from the issue of taxes, Ramsey may not want to simply be the highest-paid cornerback, which currently has a top-of-market value of $15.1 million per year. He may want to be paid like linebacker Khalil Mack, who gets $23.5 million per year. Indeed, the Rams gave up more to get Ramsey than the Bears gave up to get Mack.
Then there’s the fact that Ramsey may not want to stay in L.A. if he doesn’t believe the team has the foundation in place for sustained success. And if Ramsey wants out, he knows how to make that happen. Indeed, he has just created the bad-back playbook in order to make his exit from Jacksonville.
If that happens, it could be disastrous for the Rams, who could have gotten up to 160 games from those two first-round picks and another 64 from the fourth-round selection sent to the Jaguars. In the end, the question becomes whether their return for Ramsey via a second trade matches what they gave up to get him.