Rams make Jalen Ramsey highest paid cornerback in NFL history
Throughout the negotiation process, cornerback Jalen Ramsey said he was not worried about when his agent would come to terms with the Rams on a contract extension.
“They know where I stand,” Ramsey said in May.
Four months later, Ramsey is standing atop a mountain of cash as the highest-paid player at his position in NFL history.
The Rams announced Wednesday they had agreed to terms with Ramsey on a five-year contract. Terms were not disclosed but the deal is worth as much as $105 million, with $71.2 million in guarantees, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
Ramsey, 25, will earn about $21 million per season. That smashes the record Tre’Davious White of the Buffalo Bills established last week when he signed a five-year, $82.5-million deal that included $55 million in guarantees.
Ramsey was not made available to reporters Wednesday as the Rams continued preparations for Sunday night’s opener against the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium. He previously was scheduled to speak with reporters Friday.
But coach Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Brandon Staley said they were happy for Ramsey — and relieved that the deal was done.
“For him to be able to get that taken care of, you know, you don’t have any sort of distraction in the background and so that’s definitely a positive for us,” McVay said.
Staley, in his first season as a defensive coordinator, has indicated he intends to deploy Ramsey in multiple ways.
“Now he can go just be Jalen Ramsey,” Staley said. “He can go play the way he’s capable of playing and for him, probably more than for myself and everybody else, is I think he gets to be free now.
“I think that certainly when something like this happens for you, now you can just focus on being the best version of yourself. And in many ways it’s a dream come true, but I know for him there’s so much to be done. I know that he’s just getting started.”
After the Rams missed the playoffs last season, coach Sean McVay needs to show he can mold a team with key roster and coaching changes into a winner.
Ramsey was entering the final year of his rookie contract and was due to make $13.7-million playing under a fifth-year option.
The Jacksonville Jaguars chose Ramsey with the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL draft. The Rams traded for Ramsey during the 2019 season, giving up first-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts for a player who was voted to the Pro Bowl three times in four seasons.
Ramsey has 10 interceptions, including one last season for the Rams against the San Francisco 49ers. But Ramsey’s interception total might be higher were he not considered one of the NFL top lockdown cornerbacks, a player capable of matching up and neutralizing an opponent’s top receiver. Quarterbacks can be wary to throw in his direction.
“He’s a matchup that they obviously feel great about,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told reporters during a conference call. “He has everything you’re looking for in a shutdown corner.”
With Ramsey, the Rams followed what is becoming a familiar pattern with their star players. Ten days before the 2018 opener, the Rams signed defensive lineman Aaron Donald to a then-record $135-million extension. Five days before the 2019 opener, they signed quarterback Jared Goff to a $134-million extension that included a then-record $110 million in guarantees.
And the Rams might not be done.
Receiver Cooper Kupp, the Rams leading receiver last season, is in the final season of his rookie contract. Kupp is scheduled to earn about $2.4 million in salary and bonuses, according to overthecap.com.
Asked if he would like to have a deal done before the opener, Kupp said, “Oh, sure,” and reiterated that he would “love to be a Ram” long-term.
“My thoughts on that have not changed,” he said. “I love it here. I love my teammates. I love the coaches here. Staff’s been great. I want to be here long term so that hasn’t changed. But that’s not where my focus is. Where all my energy is going into is making sure when I step out on the field Sunday night, I’m ready to go.”
McVay was optimistic the Rams would get a deal with Kupp before the opener.
“That’s the hope,” McVay said. “We’ll see where that goes.”
McVay said rookie linebacker Terrell Lewis would be placed on non-injury reserve because of a knee injury that has kept him sidelined for two weeks. McVay said doctors performed a procedure to determine the issue. “We were worried that he had an infection from some previous stuff that he has had surgeries on that knee in years past, and potentially thought it could be something worse,” McVay said. “Fortunately, it came back where he’s OK. There wasn’t an infection in there.” McVay said, however, there was atrophy. ... The Rams added running back/kick returner Raymond Calais to the roster. ... McVay said players voted on team captains. They are: Quarterback Jared Goff, offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, defensive linemen Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, safety John Johnson and punter Johnny Hekker.
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