Here's the Detroit Lions' possible escape hatch if the Jared Goff trade doesn't work out

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Tyler J. Davis, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read
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The Detroit Lions swapped their former No. 1 overall pick for the Los Angeles Rams' former No. 1 overall pick and traded a lot of money in the process.

While many NFL fans praised the Lions for getting an average or better NFL quarterback and multiple first-round picks for Stafford, the financial implications of the deal are interesting. The two teams — one rebuilding, the other fresh off a playoff appearance — reportedly are agreeing to pay historic amounts of dead money this upcoming season. Oh and they will play each other next season

The Lions looked to deal Stafford, the No. 1 pick in 2009, after he'd asked for a trade, however, with more than $20 million due to him each of the next two years, not every team could afford him.

The Rams had long been considering a trade of their own No. 1 draft pick, Goff, taken in the 2016 draft. But the contract Los Angeles gave Goff less than two years ago was a roadblock.

Mike Florio wrote just this week about some of the cap implications of a Goff trade. He'd long advocated against giving Goff big money and said there would be few, if any, teams willing to eat Goff's money.

In hindsight, it was insane to pay Goff $33.5 million per year. It was insane to hitch the wagon to Goff for, as a practical matter, four more seasons. And it would be insane for another team, with so many options at quarterback, to trade for a contract that entails a fully-guaranteed commitment of $43.25 million over the next two years.

Enter, the Detroit Lions.

For what it's worth, Matthew Stafford's cap hit is also about $43 million over the next two years. He is a free agent after the 2022 season while Goff is signed through 2024. The Lions will carry a $17.8 million dead cap hit in 2021; the Rams $22.2 million, according to Tom Pelissero. Luckily, the Lions have less than $1 million to pay in dead money so far, while the Rams are dealing with a $8 million hit for cutting Todd Gurley.

Time will tell if this move was actually foolish. Goff is projected to start for the Lions in the upcoming season, but the question remains if Goff is the Lions' long-term answer at quarterback, a bridge for whomever they select in one of the upcoming drafts or trade bait for another haul of picks (though that would likely come with Detroit paying some of Goff's money).

Detroit did not have a ton of cap space to work with prior to the trade. The Lions were not prime contenders to spend in free agency with a rebuild on the way, but the trade only tightens the team's financial mobility for next season.

Matthew Stafford, left, was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and three draft picks. The Lions get two future first-round picks.
Matthew Stafford, left, was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and three draft picks. The Lions get two future first-round picks.

Some may look at the Lions' timeline for playoff contention and wonder why'd they'd be willing to pay this money. Remember, though, following the 2022 season, Goff's contract gets much easier to move with $0 dead cap hit if he's cut.

Even though he is likely to play for the team in 2021, that dead cap number is cut by two-thirds in 2022 — making a trade next offseason a real possibility. Goff's deal may be for four more seasons, but the Lions have options if they want to revamp their quarterback room before then.

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at tjdavis@freepress.com or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions take on Jared Goff's contract in Matthew Stafford trade