Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams swap Stafford for Goff

Rams swap Goff for Stafford
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) passes against the New England Patriots during an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

The 2021 NFL league year doesn’t begin until March 17, but several teams are already in full offseason mode. On Jan. 30, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Los Angeles Rams are sending Jared Goff, two future first-round picks, and a third-round selection to Detroit for Matthew Stafford. The move comes ahead of a highly anticipated offseason, where the quarterback carousel could spin several times.

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With the Rams giving up a third-rounder in 2021 and first-rounders from 2022 and 2023, the organization won’t have a pick in the top 32 selections until 2024. This is a fantastic opportunity for new Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes to jumpstart their rebuilding process. The deal becomes official when the new league year begins.

Stafford joined the Lions as the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Despite entering the league over a decade ago, he’s only approaching his 33rd birthday. During his 12 seasons with the franchise, Stafford set team records and made the playoffs three times. However, the Georgia product requested a trade after the regular season ended. The Lions, who recently hired Campbell and Holmes, agreed to facilitate the move.

While some speculation about Goff’s future emerged over the past several weeks, Indianapolis or San Francisco were more plausible landing spots for Stafford. Things began moving quickly within the past few days. First, Rams general manager Les Snead remained noncommittal about Goff’s future, telling the media,

“What I can say is Jared’s Goff’s a Ram in this moment. It’s way too early to speculate the future. That’s a beautiful mystery.”

Snead and head coach Sean McVay staunchly defended Goff in the past, but the former first overall pick’s second consecutive mediocre season began straining their faith. Over the past two seasons, Goff threw 42 touchdowns to 29 interceptions and posted an 88.1 passer rating. His 38 turnovers rank second in the NFL during that span.

Despite Goff struggling to regain his Pro Bowl form, the Rams went 10-6 and won their Wild Card matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. However, Los Angeles’ decision-makers recognized that Goff no longer had the Pro Bowl potential he flashed in 2017 and 2018. The 26-year-old previously led his team to Super Bowl LIII and signed a four-year, $134 million extension in Sept. of 2019. The new deal begins this coming season.

As for Stafford, two years remain on his current contract. The Georgia product carries a $20 million cap hit in 2021 and a $23 million cap hit in 2022. Those numbers are minuscule compared to Goff’s $27.825 million cap hit for this coming season. Stafford also carries no dead cap money should the Rams choose to release him for any reason.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, both organizations face some slight repercussions for trading away their quarterbacks. The Lions have $17.8 million in dead money while the Rams take a $22.2 million dead cap hit. That’s just the price of trading away two players with significant contracts.

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While the Lions begin a new chapter in the franchise’s less than stellar history, Los Angeles’ decision-makers face mounting criticism. Goff didn’t play a snap on the massive extension he signed two years ago. Todd Gurley never played for the team on the four-year, $57.5 million extension he signed in 2018 either. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks only played in Los Angeles for one of the five years included in an $80 million extension he signed in 2018.

With no first-round picks for the next three years, several bad contracts in the rearview mirror, and not enough cap space to sign impact free agents, McVay and Snead find themselves in a precarious situation. If the Rams don’t win a Super Bowl with Stafford, the head coach and general manager could find themselves looking for new jobs.

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