He’s a lock-down defender with a rare combination of size, length and speed. In his first three seasons, he has been to the Pro Bowl twice and was first-team All-Pro once.
There’s also no doubting Ramsey can be an immense headache.
He has questioned coaching schemes and decisions. As a rookie, he advocated for the entire defensive staff to be fired. He ripped most of the league’s quarterbacks in a magazine article. And, as everyone saw last Sunday, he publicly confronted his head coach during the game on the sideline.
At some point, the headache outweighs the talent. It’s no different than any high-maintenance relationship. There’s only so much selfishness and so many demands one side is willing to put up with until there’s no benefit to continuing the relationship.
That’s where the Jaguars seem to be with Ramsey. And if that’s the case, it’s time for that relationship to end.
Granting Ramsey’s trade request would not be not a good precedent, but it might be the best thing for the organization. Ramsey has his supporters in the locker room — including running back Leonard Fournette — and sending him away might not be well received, but the alternative is keeping someone who is unhappy and doesn’t want to be here. That doesn’t work in any relationship.
It’s not a matter of choosing coach Doug Marrone over Ramsey, either. Based on Ramsey’s history and his actions last Sunday, would Ramsey really change his behavior if the Jaguars fired Marrone and gave Ramsey the mega-contract he wants (and deserves, based on his production and talent)?
It seems unlikely.
And, to be honest: Does a team need an elite corner — and Ramsey might very well be the best in the league today, a generational talent — to win a Super Bowl? Elite quarterback, yes. Elite pass-rushers, certainly. It obviously helps to have as much talent as possible, but teams have won Super Bowls without elite cornerbacks.
As good as Ramsey has been, the Jaguars have won 18 games in his three-plus seasons — and that includes 10 victories in 2017. The franchise has had many personnel issues in the past few seasons, especially at quarterback and along the offensive line, and Ramsey’s talent and work ethic haven’t been able to help team overcome it.
Another thing to note: High-maintenance players generally don’t spend their careers in one spot. Some do: Michael Irvin, for example. But Deion Sanders didn’t. Neither did Terrell Owens, Randy Moss or Darrelle Revis. In fact, Sanders and Revis played for a combined nine teams.
By all accounts, Ramsey is one of the team’s hardest workers. He studies opposing receivers and has notebooks full of information on each. He is always in great shape and treats his craft seriously. He’s also not a bad guy. He adores his family. None of that is an issue for the Jaguars. In that respect, he’s the perfect player.
It’s everything else that’s the problem. Saying defensive coordinator Todd Wash should be fired in 2016. Questioning Wash’s defensive calls in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game against New England. Ripping most of the league’s quarterbacks in a GQ article. Going on a profane tirade toward the media after a fight between Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue was recorded during an open portion of training camp practice.
That, along with threatening a reporter on Twitter, earned him a week’s suspension in 2018.
Screaming at Marrone on Sunday for not challenging a completion to DeAndre Hopkins and having to be separated from his head coach was an over-the-top reaction that should have — but didn’t — result in any discipline. It was the last straw and caused Ramsey to have his agent ask for a trade.
The Jaguars reportedly would like a first-round pick in return, and that’s what the Steelers are sending to the Dolphins for second-year defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. There will definitely be interested teams. The Raiders, Eagles, Cowboys and Jets could be potential suitors.
Creating drama to get out of town is an approach that worked for Antonio Brown — twice. He became such a giant headache that Pittsburgh gave him his WISh and traded him to Oakland. He caused more problems for the Raiders, who eventually cut him, and now Brown is playing with The Patriots.
The Steelers and Raiders are obviously worse on the field without Brown’s talent, but they might be better off in the locker room with him gone. A functional team can’t have someone around who doesn’t want to be there. That’s asking for distraction and division.
That might be where the Jaguars stand with Ramsey right now: He has ridiculous talent, but the relationship has become too high maintenance. The only solution might be divorce.