JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jalen Ramsey saga is on Day 11, with no end in sight.
Ramsey wants to be traded. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, per league sources, doesn't want to part with the player they drafted at No. 5 in 2016. Stalemate.
Ramsey had an illness Monday and didn't practice. He sat out Wednesday's practice because of a back injury. Late Wednesday, Ramsey left the Jaguars because of the impending birth of his second child, and the team has no idea when he will return. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that it would be "far-fetched" for Ramsey to play Sunday in Denver. The team expects Ramsey to play if he's cleared medically.
In short: It's a bit of a mess.
Here's some help to sort it out:
Why does Ramsey want out?
Ramsey's frustration with the Jaguars came to a head when executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin chastised him after the team's loss to the Houston Texans on Sept. 15 in relation to his sideline altercation with coach Doug Marrone. That was the final push to lead Ramsey to request a trade.
But things have been building for a while. Numerous players in the locker room, including Ramsey, question the Jaguars decision-making over the past three years, especially when it comes to deciding which players get paid and which are let go, not re-signed or, in their opinion, are low-balled on contracts.
Players such as receiver Allen Robinson, whom the team declined to give the franchise tag to in 2017 and instead left for the Chicago Bears, and nickelback Aaron Colvin, who played at a high level for two seasons before the Jaguars decided he was too expensive to keep after 2017.
And cutting safety Tashaun Gipson, whom Marrone campaigned for to be in the Pro Bowl, to save money.
Signing quarterback Blake Bortles to a contract extension after one solid year and then dumping him after 2018 only to be stuck with the most dead money for a single player in NFL history. Spending big money on guard Andrew Norwell, who has been a disappointment, and signing center Brandon Linder to a new contract after his third season and making him the highest-paid center in the league despite never having played a full season.
Ramsey didn't like it when Coughlin called him out in the spring for skipping voluntary organized team activities and didn't like it when the franchise powers that be told him they weren't going to offer him a contract extension this year.
The team has won 19 games since the start of the 2016 season -- including 10 in 2017 --- and Ramsey doesn't like how he's used in the defensive scheme. These are also a big part of the player's irritation with the team.
What do the Jaguars want for Ramsey?
It has been widely reported that the Jaguars' asking price is two first-round picks, but Khan does not want to part with the elite cornerback and is working to try to mend the relationship between Ramsey and the franchise -- particularly with Coughlin.
However, if things cannot be repaired and the Jaguars do decide to grant Ramsey's wish, two first-round picks is pretty steep. The Jaguars might be willing to settle for a first-round pick, another high pick and maybe a player, especially if it's a team that likely will draft in the bottom third in 2020. For example, the Kansas City Chiefs are rumored to be one of the teams most interested in Ramsey to help bolster a defense for another playoff run. But they likely will be picking 25th or lower, so two late first-round picks might not be enough.
Spears: Jags have to get Ramsey 'the hell out of there'
Marcus Spears contends that the Jaguars need to move on from Jalen Ramsey because there is no turning back after his trade request.
Who has the most leverage?
The Jaguars. They control Ramsey's rights through the 2020 season and have the ability to do so through the 2023 season if they wish.
Ramsey is in the fourth year of his rookie contract and making $3.63 million (all of which is guaranteed), and the Jaguars already picked up his fifth-year option for 2020 at a salary of $13.7 million (guaranteed for injury only). The Jaguars can use the franchise tag on him up to three times, as well.
If Ramsey is not traded by the time next season begins, he could hold out. But if the Jaguars want to play hardball, they could keep Ramsey in Jacksonville for four more seasons after 2019.
What if Ramsey refuses to return after his child is born, forcing the Jaguars' hand?
First of all, there's nothing wrong with a player missing a game or practice for the birth of a child. New England Patriots running back James White missed last week's game against the New York Jets for that reason, and it's a relatively common occurrence throughout the league.
At issue here is how long Ramsey stays away -- or whether he even returns at all. Ramsey missed the first week of training camp in 2018 for the birth of his first child, so that's a pretty good place to start in terms of expected length of absence. Provided there are no health complications for the child and mother, it's not unreasonable for the Jaguars to expect Ramsey back within seven to 10 days after the birth.
However, the Jaguars would at some point have a deadline for his return. If Ramsey were to ignore that, then the Jaguars have multiple options.
Per the collective bargaining agreement, the Jaguars would be able to fine him up to $27,000 for each day he misses. There are separate fines for things such as missing team meetings, practices, appointments with trainers, workouts, meals, etc., but the CBA sets the daily maximum at $27,000.
However, if the Jaguars determine Ramsey's extended absence crosses into the threshold of "conduct detrimental to club" they do have the option to fine him a maximum of one week's pay ($213,778) and/or suspend him without pay for a period not to exceed four weeks.
Ryan 'disgusted' by Ramsey's behavior
Rex Ryan proclaims he's "disgusted" by Jalen Ramsey calling out sick to practice a week after demanding a trade from the Jaguars.
Ramsey was legitimately ill on Monday. Can't he continue to say he's sick to avoid practicing and playing?
He wouldn't be able to fake an illness. The Jaguars have a team physician who specializes in internal medicine, Dr. Michael Yorio, and he treats players and provides a report to the team. Ramsey can certainly seek a second opinion, and the Jaguars are required to pay for it, but, per the CBA, the doctor giving the second opinion (who must be board certified) must promptly give the team physician a report regarding the diagnosis, examination and course of treatment recommended.
As an aside, teams do have the option of placing a player on the non-football injury/illness list, in which case the player is not entitled to any compensation under his contract.
What about his back injury? Could he milk it?
To a degree, but again, the players are evaluated on a daily basis by trainers and, if needed, team physicians. The rehab progress is documented and tracked dutifully. Plus, if any players didn't respond to rehab or suffered a setback, they would be reevaluated and likely sent to a specialist. With that many medical people involved, it would be hard to fake an injury.
Has this damaged Ramsey's reputation or brand?
Not at all. Ramsey hasn't gotten into any legal trouble. Nor has he done or said anything offensive on social media or been caught on cellphone video doing anything questionable. So his brand is just fine -- he's still one of Adidas' biggest endorsers -- and his reputation hasn't taken a hit, either.
Players inside the Jaguars' locker room said they have no issue with Ramsey's work ethic, study habits and preparation. He made his trade request after the Texans game on Sept. 15, and the Jaguars played on Sept. 19. Players said they saw no difference in how Ramsey prepared.