The casual fan will watch Thursday night’s uncompelling NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans just because it’s on. Frankly, what else is there to watch until the networks begin their new seasons next week.
Ah, but we’ll be watching for the pure entertainment value, to see what else Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey does to force his team to trade him. That’s appointment television at its best.
You know, people like to believe wide receivers are the craziest dudes in the league, the ones with the biggest egos, most insecure personalities, largest mouths. If that’s so, then cornerbacks and safeties are a close second.
This week, we’ve seen three of them in action. Jets safety Jamal Adams was bitching about being fined for a late hit on Baker Mayfield. Dolphins corner Minkah Fitzpatrick wined his way out of town to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But you’d have to admit, Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey wins the prize for confronting his head coach, Doug Marrone, a fit of anger requiring the intercession of a few teammates to quell.
In the aftermath, Ramsey, a former No. 1 pick, a two-time All-Pro, has asked the Jaguars to trade him, although he denied in a bizarre press conference earlier this week that either he or his agent leaked that request to the media.
Marrone has tried to laugh the incident off. And he went a step farther on Wednesday by saying Ramsey will play Thursday and there are no lingering issues relating to their argument or his desire to be dealt.
“I stay out of that,” said Marrone. “I stay out of contracts, stay out of that stuff, and my focus is on the guys that are playing, and he’s playing and he’s on the team. I don’t get involved in that.”
Ramsey is in the fourth year of his rookie contract, but Jacksonville has already picked up the option for a fifth season in 2020. So Ramsey is stuck in town until the Jags decide to trade him.
Jacksonville just might do that, but there are reports the team is asking for at least one first-round pick – but would be happier to get two.
What’s more intriguing, at least according to ESPN, is an NFL team actually asked the league office if it would be OK if Ramsey played for them on Sunday after participating in Thursday’s game against the Titans. League rules say that’s not allowable.
“Jalen and I have always had a good, open relationship where we’ve always been able to talk,” said Marrone. “We sat down yesterday and we talked about what’s gone on as far as he and I. It’s like anything else in this profession: It’s behind us now. His focus is on playing and doing the best job for his teammates and my job is to do the best for the team.”
We beg to differ. We think Ramsey is tired of playing in Jacksonville, the sleepiest city in the league. And the best way to get himself out of the situation (as Antonio Brown has taught us) is to make a pain in the ass of yourself. That is what Ramsey is doing.
The kid is a great player, one of the few, true shutdown corners in the game. And you could see how a contender that needs help defensively, like Kansas City, might seriously consider trading for him because Ramsey can be a difference-maker in a big game.
But at what cost? Did you see his press conference on Tuesday afternoon? It was a confused, profanity-filled highway chase with Ramsey driving the white Bronco.
“I think everybody, for the most part, knows what’s up, so I don’t really too much want to speak on it and give no detail,” said Ramsey.
So let’s regroup: He engages in a shout down with his head coach and then takes it for granted everyone in the audience already knows the whys and what-fors?
What did Ramsey say? He’s excited about playing. He doesn’t want to be a distraction. He and his agent were not responsible for leaking the information about the trade request. He also said he’s in a good space.
“I want all my dawgs to go out there and ball. I want to ball with them on Thursday if I’m still here. I’m in a real good space right now. I’m at peace. Last week I came in here real positive. I’m still on that, man,” said Ramsey.
“I’m going to go out there like I do every single game and I’m going to give it my all regardless of the emotion, regardless of if I’m mad or not. Sh*t, last week, I had a good-ass game. The best receiver in the NFL (in DeAndre Hopkins). Held him to what, probably his worst stat line in two years (five receptions, 40 yards). Ain’t nobody really talking about that. I’m going out here and I’m playing my ass off. I’m giving it all for my teammates like I always do, and they know that. That’s who I do I for. I do it for God, my teammates. I really don’t care about nobody else, what they think.”
The most unbelievable thing about the Ramsey situation is its happening on the watch of Tom Coughlin, the team’s executive vice president of football operations. There is no greater disciplinarian, no coach or executive so committed to the concept of team. When he coached the Jags and New York Giants, he drove players crazy with his obsessive rules. Take it from us, guys like Ramsey make him crazy.
That’s why we believe the Jags will eventually trade him. If they lose tonight, they will fall to 0-3, which means the chances of them making the playoffs will have grown slimmer.
As they fade out of contention, while they wait for Nick Foles to return from his clavicle injury, the pressure will rise in the locker room and every media member covering the team will be interested in little more than taking Ramsey’s temperature.
What sense does it make to give Ramsey the floor when they can just show him the door?
“I don’t want to keep on running around y’all’s questions. I’m not trying to be rude or nothing but at the same time I don’t want to answer them, either,” said Ramsey. “I don’t want to be no distraction. I know y’all going to make the headlines off of one little thing I’m (going to) say so I’m going to try not to say anything for y’all to really get a headline. I know the deal and I don’t want to give y’all a headline because I don’t want it to become a bigger thing around here. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
You want to know what bothers Ramsey? Money.
He’s angry with the way the Jags have spent theirs, signing Blake Bortles to a three-year, $54 million extension only to cut him one season later. They gave Foles $68 million. They signed left guard Andrew Norwell to a five-year, $66.5 million contract in free agency and have watched him flounder. But they have not come up with the cash yet to satisfy his boys, like defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Ramsey’s mad the team is losing. He’s mad that other people are getting paid. He’s made about defensive schemes. He lives in a mad, mad world. And you can bet he wants out as soon as possible.
“I can’t answer that question for you, honestly,” said Ramsey. “So, I ain’t going to give you no bullsh*t.”