Jalen Ramsey wanted out of Jacksonville. But it was too late to hold out.
So he held in.
Ramsey embellished at best and fabricated at worst a magically-disappearing back injury that kept him from playing for three weeks, digging in and reiterating his desire to be traded until the team traded him. The Jaguars could have played hardball with Ramsey, but they didn’t. They wanted to try to work things out.
So they tried, tried, and tried some more in order to get Ramsey to want to stay. Once they realized he wasn’t going to change his mind — and once they got the trade value for him that they wanted — Ramsey got what he wanted.
While not every player who wants out of his current city will be able to launch a similar strategy, it worked for Ramsey. Still, despite the presence of former hard-nosed head coach Tom Coughlin as the executive V.P. of football operations, the Jaguars didn’t question the injury or otherwise utilize any of the devices available to them under the labor deal. So the question becomes whether other teams will do the same thing.
Currently, Washington isn’t flinching in the face of a holdout by left tackle Trent Williams. In hindsight, maybe Williams should have shown up, continued to ask to be traded, gotten paid, and eventually exaggerated or faked an injury until the team became sufficiently exasperated and traded him.
Setting aside the ethical dilemma that arises from these tactics, a player who is willing to pretend to be more injured than he is (or to pretend to be injured when he isn’t) may get exactly what he wants. As future players who are looking for a new deal and/or a new team consider their options, the Ramsey Plan is something that should at least be considered. Also, teams should be coming up with their own options for countering it.