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Rams trade Jalen Ramsey to Dolphins for tight end Hunter Long, third-round pick

Jalen Ramsey cheers after making an interception for the Rams.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey celebrates his interception against Atlanta with teammate Bobby Wagner in September.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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The Rams’ decision to trade star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday marked the end of an era.

Not a long one. Just 3½ years.

But the 2019 midseason trade that brought Ramsey to Los Angeles from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for two first-round picks kick-started the building of the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI championship team and their all-in mentality.

Now, with the Rams coming off a disastrous 2022 season, and with the bills for their boom-or-bust philosophy coming due, Ramsey becomes the latest high-priced veteran to move on as the Rams work to get under the NFL’s $224.8-million salary cap. The Rams released Bobby Wagner three weeks ago and edge rusher Leonard Floyd last week. And wide receiver Allen Robinson could be next.

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Rams coach Sean McVay described his return as a recommitment to his basic coaching principles after a humbling season. At stake is the Rams’ future.

March 10, 2023

In exchange for Ramsey, the Rams will receive a 2023 third-round draft pick and tight end Hunter Long, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

The person requested anonymity because the deal will not become official until Wednesday, the start of the NFL’s new league year.

The trade did not come as a surprise to Ramsey, a three-time All-Pro. After the season, he hinted several times on social media that he was aware he might be dealt.

“I prayed for this specifically for about a month & now it’s happening!” Ramsey tweeted Sunday. “@MiamiDolphins LETSGO!”

Last week, Rams general manager Les Snead said the team’s “DNA” was “to attack, hit the gas.”

That was evident in 2016 when the Rams sent two first-round draft picks to the Tennessee Titans to move up 14 spots to draft quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick. It continued in 2018 when they made several headline-grabbing moves to build a team that reached Super Bowl LIII. They traded for Ramsey in 2019, and in 2021 they sent Goff and two first-round picks to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford and later traded for edge rusher Von Miller and signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

But in the aftermath of last season’s 5-12 finish, and with the need to build draft capital, “We want to hit the brakes a little bit,” Snead said.

The Rams now have 11 picks in the NFL draft April 27-29 in Kansas City, Mo., including one in the second round, two in the third, three in the fifth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh.

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Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is introduced before the 2022 NFC Championship Game.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is introduced before the 2022 NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Long, 24, was a third-round pick by the Dolphins in 2021. Last season, he played in nine games but had no targets. He joins a tight end group that includes eighth-year pro Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins.

Ramsey’s departure leaves the Rams with another major hole in the defense and foundation.

Ramsey, 28, joined defensive lineman Aaron Donald, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and, eventually, Stafford as cornerstones for a Rams team that capped the 2021 season by fulfilling owner Stan Kroenke’s mandate to win the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.

In 2020, Ramsey signed a five-year, $100-million extension that included $71.2 million in guarantees, at the time the largest contract for a defensive back in NFL history. He was scheduled to carry a salary cap number of $25.2 million in the upcoming season, according to overthecap.com.

In three-plus seasons with the Rams, Ramsey intercepted 10 passes, including two in last season’s finale against the Seattle Seahawks. He also made several victory-clinching plays.

In his first public comments since deciding to return as Rams head coach, Sean McVay underlines his commitment to the team amid a challenging offseason.

March 10, 2023

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In 2020, under then-defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, Ramsey’s role expanded beyond shutdown cornerback. He played on the outside and inside and also lined up as a safety, hybrid linebacker and pass rusher.

Raheem Morris, who replaced Staley, continued to use Ramsey at multiple positions in the last two seasons. Ramsey got beat a few times in 2022, but he is still regarded as one of the NFL’s elite players and now joins a Dolphins defense that includes cornerback Xavien Howard and edge rusher Bradley Chubb.

With Ramsey headed to Miami, and cornerbacks Troy Hill and David Long Jr. unrestricted free agents, the Rams could rely upon second-year cornerbacks Decobie Durant and Derion Kendrick. They also will seek to add depth through free agency and the draft.

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