THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Acquiring CB Jalen Ramsey was by no means a guarantee after earlier moves the Rams made on Tuesday.
In the end, the decision to trade CB Marcus Peters and draft capital was a risk that paid off, giving Los Angeles one of the NFL's premiere young defensive players.
"Anytime an opportunity presents itself, as an organization you've got to determine, hey, should we seize that opportunity? Is it the right time for us? Is it a better time for someone else?" Rams GM Les Snead said. "So you always reach out and keep tabs."
Meet newly acquired CB Jalen Ramsey.
Several moving parts put Los Angeles in position to make the move and gave it the confidence it could be able to do so. One of those parts included the team's draft preparation this spring in addition to the cornerbacks already on its roster.
Snead said that based on the quality of front seven players (defensive linemen and linebackers) available this year, the Rams felt like they would be in position to select a cornerback they liked in the draft. The position was a target due to Peters and 12-year veteran Aqib Talib playing on expiring contracts this season and becoming unrestricted free agents next year.
The Rams chose to keep six young cornerbacks on the roster at the conclusion of the preseason, which is when calls about potentially releasing or trading one of them began, according to Snead.
"So those teams have always felt like, our corner situation was somewhat strong or at least deep, whether it was an unproven player or a veteran player," Snead said.
Peters turned out to be the cornerback who fit the criteria other teams desired.
"You've got to discuss Marcus Peters without the insurance of Jalen," Snead said. "That had to be done, that's the only way to do it because there was no certainty that you were going to be able to acquire him."
It wasn't just the risk that made the decision to trade Peters to the Ravens a difficult one.
"Anytime you're a GM and you call a player like a him and tell him that you traded him, you actually walk down the hall and there's a moment where you go, 'OK, I wish I would've never taken this job,' because that's not a call you want to make," Snead said. "Unbelievably (is) how Marcus handled it, extreme professionalism."
Careful consideration was also given to trading a 2020 first-round pick and 2021 first-round pick as well as the 2021 fourth-round pick.
"You’re always going to ask yourself the question of, is it best to utilize draft picks to either move up and get who you actually, you obviously would assume would be a player with high potential or a higher projection, but again it’s still a projection," Snead said. "Or are you going to use your picks to move back, acquire more picks to again, continue to acquiring players that still has a projection element to them and you’ve got to develop them or are you going to use them with players who’ve either proven their projection, more know commodities?"
The last hurdle to clear was negotiations with the Jaguars.
For Snead, a long working relationship with Jacksonville GM David Caldwell proved helpful. The two worked together in the Atlanta Falcons' front office in 2011 when Snead was their director of player personnel and Caldwell their director of college scouting.
"What I did know is, the intel that I had from Dave was it could be time for them to move, versus, a week or two ago, they were holding pat and were going to keep him," Snead said. "So that's what I knew, is there was a possibility to do that. That was the only piece of evidence. I'm well aware there were a few other teams involved, and again, it's a market and it's competitive. Can you actually beat those teams if they were willing to trade? But I did have enough discussions with Dave that the timing could be right to make the move."
Dramatic moves like this don't happen on a whim.
Snead said he didn't wake up Tuesday saying the Ramsey trade, the Austin Corbett trade and the Kenny Young trade is what the Rams were going to do, nor were those decisions predicated by negative results from a single game.
These were calculated choices, ones that ultimately rewarded L.A. for the chances they took.
"If you look at some of the receivers he’s played against, whether it was in Pittsburgh a couple of years in the playoff run, whether it was against (Texans WR) DeAndre Hopkins, things like that, you’ve got a good subset of case studies to go watch and it was actually fun studying him," Snead said. "You come away very impressed with how he approaches the game in pass and in the run, tackling and covering and you’re very impressed with mom, dad and God and what they gave this kid.”