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/Opinion: Jalen Ramseys landing spots, Lamar Jacksons growth and Kirk Cousins struggles
Opinion: Jalen Ramseys landing spots, Lamar Jacksons growth and Kirk Cousins struggles

Opinion: Jalen Ramseys landing spots, Lamar Jacksons growth and Kirk Cousins struggles


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Although the Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t pulled the trigger on a trade to jettison cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the strong sentiment from many in the NFL is that it’s only a matter of time.
In an interesting news conference on Tuesday, Ramsey did his best to quiet the noise and declared that he has no ill will toward anyone in the organization. But Ramsey has indeed requested a trade, as he said in the latest episode of Uninterrupted’s “17 Weeks” podcast that he feels his “time is up” in Jacksonville after “some disrespectful things were said” by the team’s management.
Numerous teams have interest in Ramsey’s services. The fifth pick of the 2016 draft, he earned All-Pro honors in 2017 and made the Pro Bowl the last two years. But to secure Ramsey and make things work for the long term, a team would not only have to meet the demands of the Jaguars, but likely also those of the star defender.
Ramsey is now in the fourth year of his rookie contract, and in February, Jacksonville exercised the fifth-year option. But Ramsey seeks a long-term deal, so any potential trade partner must be willing to reach such an agreement to cement the swap.
Ramsey seeks a new contract that would make him the highest paid cornerback in the league and feature full guarantees of around $50 million, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on behalf of the Jaguars or Ramsey.
Multiple teams have been linked to Ramsey in recent days, but Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans rank among the most serious.
The Chiefs remain in pursuit of improvement on their defense, aiming to match the potency of their offense and position themselves to win a Super Bowl.
Seattle also seeks additional help in its secondary while trying to return to the ranks of the NFC’s elite.
This is a make-or-break year for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, but while still evaluating the former second overall pick of the 2015, team officials would like to fortify their defense. It’s unclear, however, if the Jaguars would be amenable to trading a key player to a divisional opponent.
Jacksonville’s potential willingness to part with such a talented player is perplexing, especially because the team reached the playoffs two years ago and invested heavily in quarterback Nick Foles, who broke his collarbone in Week 1, this offseason. But the Jaguars have failed to meet Ramsey’s asking price, and his relationship with coach Doug Marrone has soured after a sideline confrontation in last week’s loss to the Texans.
There are some high-ranking members of the organization who do want Marrone and Ramsey to reconcile and for the team to make a strong push to retain the cornerback, a second person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the franchise. But Marrone and team vice president Tom Coughlin are said to view Ramsey as a growing distraction. If they could secure two first-round picks, they could see that as a bounty worth taking.
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Jackson’s growth
Can we stop questioning the legitimacy of Lamar Jackson’s passing ability now?
For a second week in a row, the Baltimore Ravens’ young quarterback displayed tremendous growth and dynamic play-making ability in a 23-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Picking up right where he left off, Jackson passed for 272 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 120 yards as Baltimore improved to 2-0.
There’s no need to make the disclaimer that the performance came against a team that owned the worst record in the league last year. Last week, some critics wanted to attach an asterisk to Jackson’s big day against the Dolphins because of how bad they are.
Jackson can’t help who the schedule calls for. All he can do is play at a high level, and that he has, throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
One of the most impressive aspects about Jackson this year is his decisiveness. He’s keeping his eyes downfield, even when having to buy time with his feet. He trusts what he sees. He pulls the trigger. There’s no tentativeness that you see with other young quarterbacks.
New offensive coordinator Greg Roman has done a great job of using the threat of Jackson’s legs and Baltimore’s strong overall run game run to buy his quarterback time. Defensive coordinators have to commit men to the box to try to stop the run and also hesitate to send all-out blitzes because they know Jackson can hurt them with his legs. Defenders also tend to bite on the play-action, which creates opportunities for Jackson to strike downfield.
And there’s the accuracy.
Jackson is completing 71.9% of his passes while rocking a 145.2 quarterback rating. That’s an impressive jump from last season’s completion rate of 58.2% and passer rating of 84.5.
During training camp practices, it was clear Roman had Jackson focus on getting the ball out quickly. But Jackson’s rushed throws tended to miss their marks, raising questions about his ability to develop into an accurate passer.
Now those late-summer issues seemingly have vanished. Jackson is placing the ball in prime spots for his receivers. Through two games, he ranks among the league leaders in completion percentage (fifth) and quarterback rating (first).
Vikings still waiting on Cousins
One team still waiting anxiously for their quarterback to deliver on the potential they see in him is the Minnesota Vikings.
Sunday afternoon represented a subpar outing for the eighth-year pro, who is in the second season of a three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million contact. Cousins generally is an accurate passer overall, but his completion percentage has plunged from 70.1 last year to 52.4 in 2019.
Trailing the host Packers 21-16 with the ball at Green Bay’s 8-yard line and a little more than five minutes left, Cousins backpedaled to avoid pressure, chucked the ball toward the back of the end zone to Stefon Diggs, but Packers defensive back Kevin King intercepted the pass.
That series encapsulated the most frustrating aspects of Cousins’ game dating back to his time in Washington: He does a good job of moving his team into scoring position, but struggles persist in the red zone.
According to Pro Football Focus, since 2017, when his team possesses the ball inside his opponents’ 10-yard line, Cousins owns a 76.5 passer rating and 44.6 completion percentage with a paltry average of 1.6 yards per attempt. That’s 27th out of 27 qualifying quarterbacks.
The Vikings have tried to ease pressure on Cousins by arming him with talented receivers, placing a higher emphasis on the run game and investing heavily in their defense. But they still need Cousins to deliver in these clutch moments if they hope to win a division occupied by Aaron Rodgers.
Follow Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.

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