Their relationship as players goes back to their days battling each other in the ACC: Jalen Ramsey for the Florida State Seminoles and Deshaun Watson for the Clemson Tigers. They've both since become megastars at the NFL level but, until now, it was only Ramsey generating a maelstrom of headlines fueled by angst against his incumbent team -- forcing his way out of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization and into a better fit that includes a record-setting contract with the Los Angeles Rams. Fast forward to 2020 and Watson, who already has his contract extension in tow, is demanding a trade from the Houston Texans and hasn't blinked once in his staredown with team ownership.
The problem for Watson is, like the Jaguars initially did with Ramsey, the Texans have drawn a hard line in the sand and are refusing to take calls to hear trade offers. Obviously, Jacksonville eventually thought better of that stance and cut its losses with the All-Pro cornerback by shipping him away for a hefty haul in return, and while we'll all eventually see if the Texans do the same with Watson, Ramsey doesn't believe they'll have a choice. In the end, Ramsey told NFL Network's Huddle and Flow podcast, Watson isn't kidding around and will likely never put on a Texans jersey again.
How serious is Watson about leaving South Texas?
"Extremely serious, he's extremely serious," Ramsey said. "At the end of the day. Deshaun is a great man. A servant leader. Even now when people are trying to crucify him and talk bad on his name, he's still out there doing things for the community in Houston.
"So he's a great man. He's a professional. He's going to still do things that are positive in the community and probably still help his teammates out. But I highly doubt he'll ever suit up in a Texans uniform again.
"He's very serious. I will say he's very serious. This is his legacy here, I mean, he should be serious."
It bears mentioning it's unlikely Ramsey is speaking from a position of ignorance, considering he and Watson have the same representation in super-agent David Mulugheta. So aside from his personal relationship with the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, there's a connection on the business side, which means Ramsey probably has a better overall grasp of the situation than most. And considering he's literally been here before, there's plenty of advice he can offer Watson on how to manage the issue.
And so, he's doing just that:
"When I was in Jacksonville, they were so mad at me," said Ramsey. "They probably still hate me because I wanted to put myself in a better situation. In the NFL, it's not guaranteed that we're going to have super long careers. We might only have a certain window to take advantage of and be the best we can and to make the money we can, and to win a Super Bowl.
"Like yes, we get our contracts and stuff like that, but everybody wants to win a Super Bowl, the great ones do, anyway. We want to leave our legacy. We want to leave our print on this game. I know, for me personally, that was one of my reasons for wanting out of Jacksonville. I didn't see any more growth coming from that.
"I was unhappy there. I felt some things were not being done the right way, and I needed to transition. I needed to go somewhere else where I could take my game to another level where I felt like I was valued, where I felt like I could win, etc., etc. And I feel that's probably what Deshaun is going through as well.
"He wants to feel valued. He's their franchise guy. Especially at quarterback, especially him. Let's be real. He's one of the best in the game.
"... If he's not feeling like he's being valued and he's not getting a say-so and that's something that was talked about prior to his contract and now there's a switch-up, I would want out too. I would want to be in a situation where I could win immediately or in this gap because, like I said, we've got short careers, man. Much power to him, much respect to him. I hope he gets everything that he's wishing and praying for, honestly, man."
The beginning of this potential end began when Watson was promised by the Texans front office he'd be included in major decisions going forward, and the opposite occurred -- rather immediately. He was reportedly furious at the hiring of Nick Caserio as general manager and the fact his calls to interview Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as a head coach candidate were ignored, something Houston pulled an about-face with but ultimately ended up landing on David Culley over all others.
The hiring garnered its own level of concern from those who note Culley lacks any experience as a HC, and how that doesn't send the right message to a franchise quarterback who's both disgruntled and in no mood to go through a rebuild -- with a front office he distrusts. He's since met with Culley and refreshed his demand to be traded.
Having seen future Hall of Fame pass rusher J.J. Watt recently released and now wearing a huge smile as a member of the Arizona Cardinals, Watson is probably emboldened in his demand and -- all things considered -- it stands to reason why Ramsey is hammering home just how convicted the QB is to his cause. There are plenty of teams who'd throw the kitchen sink at a trade to land Watson, but first the Texans have to pick up the phone.
And the longer they send calls to voicemail, the worse this might all become for them.