Why The Jags Will Rue The Day They Played Hardball With Ramsey

The Jalen Ramsey contract saga took another turn on Wednesday when the All-Pro cornerback showed up on the injury report with a back injury.

Then last night, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that Ramsey has left the team to be with his girlfriend as they await the impending birth of his second child. 

Jaguars released a statement saying, “he will return to the team when he’s ready and we will provide an update at that time”.

Nothing is resolved and with the Jacksonville Jaguars struggling at 1-2, Ramsey’s departure has folks panicking. Everyone is up in arms about Ramsey’s negotiating tactics and he’s been a target of a disingenuous sports media the past few days. 

Check out this opening paragraph in a nypost.com article written by long-time NY sports write Mark Cannizzaro, entitled “Jalen Ramsey Is Everything that’s Wrong With The NFL”. 

Cannizzaro is sounding more like a mouthpiece or cheerleader for the owners and fans than a seeker of journalistic truth. 

“It’s becoming more and more difficult for NFL fans to root for their teams. It’s getting to the point, in some cases, where fans don’t even have time to bask in a big victory without some off-the-field nonsense detracting from the experience.

Take the Jaguars, for example. They finally ended their ugly two-game slide to start the season with a critical, rousing road win over the Titans in Jacksonville last Thursday night and, almost immediately, attention was turned to their disgruntled cornerback Jalen Ramsey and his selfish trade demands.”

Cannizzaro’s sentiments reflect the feelings of most fans and media types, who more than anything are angry at their best players for holding out because it affects the potential success of their teams — and messes up all the fun.  

However, anyone who has a problem with how the 24-year-old Ramsey is moving is just immersed in selfishness and lack of foresight. Ramsey basically let the team know last season that he was seeking a contract extension.

Despite the fact that he’s probably the best in the game, his rookie contract is paying him a base salary of $3,634,227  and there are 37 NFL corners making more scratch than Ramsey, who doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent until 2021. 

The Jaguars know they need him and have to pay him, but they are playing old school hardball with a player that the franchise can’t afford to lose. It’s another example of owners trying to lowball players and stunt the rise of player empowerment.  

Sometimes flexing the poker face works for owners. Gordon held out for a new contract the entire preseason and first three games of this season, but is ending his holdout this weekend without accomplishing anything but a smaller wallet.

Sometimes it doesn’t, as Dallas will probably have to pay Dak Prescott $200 million dollars now that they waited so long to offer him the new contract he deserved.

Player Empowerment Leads OwnersTo Contract Retaliation


What do Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon all have in common besides being among the elite Black NFL players?  

They all attempted to hold out or forced trades in order to be paid what they are worth. Beyond the short arms and deep pockets that these owners possess at times, these players also complained about how they were being “treated” and devalued by the organization. 

Respect and worth is a massive point of conflict for NFL players who are still edgy, unhappy and unsatisfied with the Kaepernick situation which lingers like a bad odor behind a closed door in one’s garage, sometimes permeating throughout the house.   

2018 was Ramsey’s third season in the league and he made his second Pro Bowl as one of the basement bargain stars in the sport. Consequently, he also made it clear that he wanted a contract extension.

Via bigcatcountry.com: “So when asked if he’s eyeing an extension this offseason, Ramsey was his normal self — gregarious, boisterous, and to the point. He wants to play for one team his entire career but he wants to be paid like one of the best at his respective position.

‘Like I said, I am going to let my agent and front office handle that,” Ramsey said after Thursday’s practice. “After what came out five weeks ago or however many weeks ago it was — yes, I am feeling like [that]. If [the team] is serious about [trade reports] not being real then I need to make it happen. If not, maybe what came out five weeks ago will happen. We will see. I am just going to keep enjoying every day. I am blessed. Let them handle it.’

Jalen could be locked in until after the 2021 season with his rookie contract and a fifth-year option that makes him the average of the top five highest-paid cornerbacks in the league.


Jalen could be rewarded for the gifted athlete he will be for the next decade and given a contract this offseason that reflects that.

Don’t f*ck this up, Jaguars.”

Back in the days of BC (Before Kaepernick) that approach worked. Not anymore. So because the Jaguars don’t want to do the right thing and just pay their franchise player, we must enjoy another soap opera between an NFL team and its star player. 

On September 15, everything came to a head after a sideline rift between Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone, which led to Ramsey officially requesting a trade.  

The Jaguars announced that they don’t want to trade him. Schefter says they have turned down some great trade offers for the 24-year-old, opinionated ball hawk. They just don’t want to just pay him his money right now either. They’d rather he risk injury playing on a janky contract, but everybody knows that’s just bad business.   

On Monday, Ramsey missed practice, claiming he was sick and Stephen A. Smith confirmed that Ramsey was truly ill, despite the fact that most people felt that it was Ramsey moving funny because of his contract dispute.  

It looks like the Jaguars did [email protected]$ck this thing up, after all. But isn’t that what losing franchises with no championship experience do? 

Black Character Assassination As A Weapon

It’s always easy for the media to attack the players. There’s this belief among certain people that NFL players should be thankful for the opportunity to play pro sports as if they didn’t work their asses off to get their, same as a brain surgeon, a CPA, politician or a hedge fund manager.

Jalen’s situation represents a disturbing trend that still exists between NFL owners and the League’s African-American superstars and the owners.  

Whenever a player is unhappy with the way he is being valued or respected by the team, these media types tend to side with the owners and label the players as malcontents, egomaniacs and if you are Antonio Brown — too Black, too loud, too proud, too talented and too influential to just get blackballed from the league —  then it’s possible that the league will turn and figure out a way to use your personal life against you to keep you from having the platform that proves you the leverage to play hardball for what really amounts to peanuts for these multi-billionaire owners. 


Owners — let’s just call a spade a spade — are very uncomfortable with young, black men attempting to call their own shots, dictate their own careers and demand a human respect level that exceeds the money that they are given. 

Ramsey is another example of the player empowerment movement in full swing. Another superstar who is among the best in the game at his position, who is underpaid and doesn’t want to risk a career-threatening injury before he can acquire a huge bag. 

Ramsey’s being criticized and attacked as being selfish, but who’s really being stingy here? The Jaguars need Ramsey way more than he ever needed them. The franchise seems to be hustling backwards and Ramsey made it clear in 2018 that he wanted a contract extension ASAP. He’s underpaid in comparison to other top-flight cornerbacks. His performance on the field has been consistently superior and the numbers speak for themselves.  Other than the fact that he talks hella shit and can be annoying, he’s a diamond.  

Colin Kaepernick Effect

It’s not like Ramsey is doing something out of the ordinary. It’s been par for the course over the last two seasons for NFL superstars to hold out after the teams that they have bruised and battered their bodies for, refuse to properly compensate them.

Ever since the Colin Kaepernick drama exposed how most white Republicans and the all-white NFL ownership truly felt about the African-American players who suit up for them and provide entertainment each weekend.

There was a terrible backlash against something that Kaepernick felt he had to do to improve the plight of the country. Instead of being immediately praised and supported, everyone from the President to TV and radio hosts attacked Kapernick as a communist, unpatriotic and selfish. 

The situation became the source of further racial and political divide in this country with a legion of snakes hijacking the movement on both sides for their own benefit.  

The owners aren’t dumb. Neither are the players. They may not be kneeling anymore but for the NFL to think that everything is back to normal when Kaepernick is still being blackballed and the owners are still basically being assholes, it is definitely illogical. 

The NFL has followed the NBA’s lead on player empowerment. NFL players understand their value and worth now as well. They also understand that they tackle the biggest risks of any pro athlete in team sports when they step on the field to play the bloodsport of football. No matter how the NFL tries to water down the game, major contacts will exist and the bottom line, which is to annihilate the opposition will always remain. 

Ramsey is considered the premier cover corner in the NFL. In today’s pass-first league, a cover corner is one of the premium positions that a winning team must have. He knows this and the Jaguars certainly know this. To play hardball with him and paint him as a villain in the media is trash and that’s why he won’t be playing for the team and they look ridiculous right now. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.