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Jalen Ramsey Trade Grade: Rams Unload Salary, Dolphins Get Shutdown CB

The six-time Pro Bowl cornerback joins Vic Fangio’s heavy zone scheme with Xavien Howard, giving Miami one of the best cover tandems in the NFL.

Trade details: Rams receive 2023 third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long. Dolphins receive cornerback Jalen Ramsey

Dolphins grade: B

Rams grade: C

Jalen Ramsey is headed back to Florida, but he’ll be wearing a different shade of teal.

The Dolphins agreed in principle Sunday with the Rams to acquire Ramsey, giving them a set of Pro Bowl corners from a year ago with Xavien Howard on the other side. However, both Howard or Ramsey struggled at times by their lofty standards in 2022, and now both are locked in long term.

Ramsey, 28, is arguably the finest corner of his era. A Pro Bowler each of the past six seasons and a three-time first-team All-Pro, Miami is betting he’ll bounce back under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who plays a heavy zone scheme.

The Dolphins also understand their situation. Miami doesn’t have a first-round pick to address corner, and in the quarterback-loaded AFC, being thin in the defensive backfield is a nightmare. Last year, the Dolphins ranked 26th in air yards and 27th in yards after catch allowed.

The Rams traded cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Dolphins for a 2023 third-round draft pick.

Ramsey enters his eighth NFL season, having registered four interceptions and two sacks in 2022.

Ultimately, the question for Miami is whether Ramsey will return to his previous form, or if 2022 was the start of his decline. If it’s the former, the Dolphins won’t mind paying the remainder of Ramsey’s deal, which now includes the next two years fully guaranteed.

If it’s the latter, Miami is now paying big money on two deals in its secondary. Howard is still signed for four years at cap hits of $10 million, $25.9 million, $22.9 million and $24.4 million, with significant dead money in each of those years.

As for the Rams, this trade signals to every team that they’re open for business.

After releasing linebacker Bobby Wagner in February and edge rusher Leonard Floyd earlier this week, the Rams are now moving on from Ramsey, the only star in their secondary. And while trading away Ramsey saves $5.6 million this year, Los Angeles is also eating $19.6 million, $11.4 million and $3.2 million in dead money over the next three years, respectively.

General manager Les Snead won a Super Bowl by making big trades and eschewing draft picks, but he’s now paying a steep price. The Rams are having a yard sale in an effort to fix a bloated salary cap and with teams knowing they’re in a tough spot.

Although Ramsey is coming off an uneven year, he remains one of the league’s better corners. Without him, Los Angeles has one of the league’s worst secondaries. The Rams are also without a first-round pick in April’s draft, although they do have 11 selections, albeit eight of them between the fifth and seventh rounds.

With the jettisoning of Ramsey, one wonders about the future of defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The Rams are rebuilding and Donald turns 32 years old on May 23. He would easily fetch the biggest return of any player on the roster not named Matthew Stafford, and if the move was made post-June 1, it would save Los Angeles $13.5 million and $21.6 million over the next two years.