JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus grabbed his lower back, feigning pain and a limp, as he left the locker room Wednesday.
"Oh, my back," Dareus joked, taking a not-so-subtle shot at newly departed cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
It was the most negative thing the Jaguars (2-4) said publicly about their former teammate. Privately, though, several guys expressed relief that the monthlong saga was over.
Jacksonville traded Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday for three draft picks, including two first-rounders. The move came one month after Ramsey's trade request followed a heated sideline argument with coach Doug Marrone and a less-public exchange with personnel chief Tom Coughlin.
Ramsey sat out the last three games with a back injury that several people inside the organization believe was either made up or exaggerated to avoid playing for the Jaguars. Team doctors had cleared him to practice and play.
"Every man has his own journey, his own destiny," defensive end Yannick Ngakoue said. "We all handle situations differently. ... At the end of the day, it's a business."
Owner Shad Khan released a statement saying the team is "doing just fine" without Ramsey. Coughlin also weighed in via a statement: "Given the situation with Jalen, we made this decision based on what we thought is in the best interest of the Jacksonville Jaguars, for this season and well into the future."
The trade went down a week after Khan said he had a "heart to heart" with Ramsey and expected him to play against New Orleans, and two weeks after Khan said he didn't want to deal the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft.
Khan, Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell left Marrone to answer questions about parting with one of the franchise's best players in its 25 years of existence. Jacksonville got first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 as well as a fourth-rounder in 2021.
It could end up being a decent haul for a player who caused as many headaches for his coaches as he did opponents . Or it could haunt the franchise for decades, especially if the usually verbose Ramsey lets his Pro Bowl play do the talking.
"I'm sure five years from now, 10 years from now, someone will be able to write about it," Marrone said, expressing frustration with being grilled on a trade he had little, if any, say in executing. "It's not my job to do that. And again, I know you guys are probably frustrated, but you're talking to a guy that has a big job to get the players ready.
"I just wish I can give you the insight and the answers that that question needs to be answered. I don't have that. And I wish we could get someone up here that can answer it. I do. But it's me. ... You don't know until down the road."
The Jaguars, who play at Cincinnati (0-6) on Sunday, already started taking steps to rid Ramsey's image from the stadium and the city.
They took down a banner outside the practice field that featured Ramsey, Ngakoue, injured quarterback Nick Foles, linebacker Myles Jack, running back Leonard Fournette and defensive end Calais Campbell.
They are working to redo a huge advertisement outside the stadium that features Ramsey standing between Ngakoue and fellow cornerback A.J. Bouye as well as a Jaguars promotional vehicle.
They also emptied his locker stall and removed his name plate.
"We can't question everything going on with in front office, everything going coaching staff, things like that, the moves," Bouye said. "We just have to accept what it is and then just keep moving forward."
Replacing Ramsey might prove more difficult. Jacksonville is 1-2 with second-year pro Tre Herndon starting in his place.
"Once he spoke his wishes, there was no like, lock Jalen in a room and say, 'Hey, we need you,'" defensive tackle Abry Jones said. "People want to talk about distraction, but y'all couldn't find him for an interview, could y'all? He did his best to not cause a distraction because that's how he felt about this team.
"Even though he wanted (to be traded), he's still got people on this team he loved that he called brothers and he's not going to make no big thing about him wanting to leave — which is very big — but he wasn't going to make no whole ordeal because that's how he felt about this team. I respect for him and I respect his wishes to go."
Ramsey clearly won the standoff. He didn't miss a paycheque and was ultimately granted his request.
"In the back of my mind I just figured one of these weeks Jalen was going to be back and we were going to be back playing with him," Jack said. "But we just have to move on and keep pushing."
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