Rams’ Jalen Ramsey thrilled he can put football mind over money matters
Any possible distraction is gone. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey will begin the season with a clear mind — and a very secure financial future.
That was Ramsey’s assessment Friday when he spoke to reporters for the first time since signing a record five-year, $105-million contract extension that made him the highest-paid player at his position in NFL history.
Ramsey, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, had maintained throughout the negotiation process he was not worried that a deal would get done between the Rams and his agent, David Mulugheta. But he acknowledged it was difficult to keep it out of his mind as Sunday’s opener against the Dallas Cowboys approached.
“It’s just kind of like human nature — like it’s hard not to have it in the back of your mind just a little bit,” Ramsey said during a videoconference. “So I started, as the season got closer to being here, I started to think about it a little bit more, get kind of anxious a little bit.
“But having it done before the season, before really this week’s preparation, meant a lot because now I can truly focus and truly be free.”
Running backs Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers are expected to be used in combination as the Rams attempt to rebound after missing the playoffs.
The Rams gave up two-first-round draft picks when they traded for Ramsey last October. He was scheduled to earn $13.7 million this season in the last year of the rookie contract he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. The new deal increased his average yearly compensation to more than $20 million.
“The trust and the respect that the whole Rams organization has had for me since they traded for me has meant a lot so I would just like to thank them, the whole organization from top to bottom,” he said.
Ramsey, 25, recounted the moment Mulugheta called him to inform him that the deal was complete.
“Words really can’t put it into play what I really felt like,” he said. “A lot of emotions went through my mind. I felt relief. I felt like all my hard work had paid off.”
Ramsey said he thought about his mother, father and brother and how he dreamed of one day playing in the NFL. He said he thought about his daughters, Brelynn and Brooklyn.
“I don’t even cry or nothing like that, but I just teared up thinking about my daughters and thinking about how I can just take care of them without any worries,” he said.
Ramsey’s was the latest contract negotiated by Mulugheta, who also negotiated record deals for Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in the last few weeks.
“He’s the best in the game at what he does,” Ramsey said.
SoFi Stadium, the NFL’s crown jewel, was the the culmination of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s vision and the NFL’s desire to return to the L.A. market.
Ramsey joins star tackle Aaron Donald as a potential long-term leader of a defense now under the direction of first-year coordinator Brandon Staley.
“I love L.A., obviously, and everything that comes with it,” he said. “But this team has been everything that I’ve dreamed of plus more. And I can’t wait to, honestly, play here for, hopefully, the rest of my career.
“I can’t wait to tell my kids, you know, one day that I played with the best football player ever, Aaron Donald. Hopefully, you know, we can do great things, win Super Bowls and do lot of great things in L.A.”
After Ramsey agreed to terms with the Rams on Wednesday, teammates and coaches praised a player who made an immediate impact. Coach Sean McVay cited Ramsey’s practice effort and receptiveness to coaching; how Ramsey organized offseason workouts, and how he helps teammates.
Despite parting ways with Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks in cost-cutting moves, the Rams are still expecting plenty of return on offense this season.
“You even hear him coaching up some of our receivers as far as giving them tips and things that they can do to kind of make it more difficult on him from his vantage point,” McVay said. “The more I get to know him … the more I appreciate him. He’s extremely intelligent, aware of everything that’s going on.”
Running back Darrell Henderson (hamstring) practiced and McVay said he would be ready for Sunday’s game. ... Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, on how air quality from wildfires might affect Sunday’s game. “We’re in touch with the NFL and local officials and we’re monitoring the air quality. But we expect as of now that the game will be played as scheduled.”
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