THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Jalen Ramsey says he can now focus and truly be free.
On Friday, a day after Ramsey signed a five-year, $105-million extension with the Los Angeles Rams, Ramsey expressed relief that a deal was reached before Sunday’s season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
“I started, as the season got closer to being here, I started to think about it a little bit more, get kinda anxious a little bit,” Ramsey said. “But having it done before the season — before, really, this week’s preparation — meant a lot.”
Ramsey’s deal included $71.2 million guaranteed at signing and is the most lucrative contract ever earned by an NFL defensive back.
It also makes the three-time Pro Bowl selection and All Pro a cornerstone on a defense that also includes star tackle Aaron Donald, who is signed through the 2024 season.
Ramsey found it difficult to describe how he felt when his agent, David Mulugheta, called to inform him of the deal.
“Words really can’t put it into play,” said Ramsey, who turns 26 in October. “A lot of emotion went through my mind. I felt relieved. I felt like all my hard work had paid off. I felt like — I dunno, I had a lot going on in my mind, really. The trust and the respect that the whole Rams organization has had for me since they traded for me, has meant a lot.”
Last October, the Rams sent 2020 and 2021 first-round picks, as well as a 2021 fourth-round selection, to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for Ramsey, whose relationship with the organization had grown acrimonious.
Ramsey says he felt valued by the Rams as soon as the trade was completed, and expressed a desire to finish his career in Los Angeles.
“This has been really solid, somewhere I feel comfortable,” Ramsey said. “I love L.A., obviously, and everything that comes with it. But this team has been everything that I’ve dreamed of plus more and I can’t wait to, honestly, play here for hopefully the rest of my career.
“I can’t wait to tell my kids one day that I played with the best football player ever, Aaron Donald. Hopefully, we can do great things, win Super Bowls, and do a lot of great things in L.A.”
Ramsey’s Week 7 arrival with the Rams last season coincided with a sharp improvement in their defense. With the lockdown cornerback in the lineup, the Rams allowed nearly five fewer points per game and significantly fewer passing yards per game. His presence also helped the pass rush get to the quarterback, as the defense recorded twice as many sacks per game with him in the lineup, according to ESPN Stats and Information Research.
In 59 career starts, Ramsey has intercepted 10 passes, returning one for a touchdown, and has 49 pass deflections.
This season, under first-year coordinator Brandon Staley, Ramsey’s role is expected to expand from cornerback to all-encompassing defensive back.
Ramsey says he does not typically cry, but admitted Friday that his eyes welled over his new contract and the fact that it includes performance incentives named after his young daughters, Brooklyn and Breelyn, who he says are sources of motivation.
“I just teared up, kind of thinking about my daughters and thinking about how I can just take care of them without any worries,” Ramsey said. “And how they’ll never have to worry in their life, even their kid’s life.”