As wild as this statement seems, the post-Matthew Stafford era could see the return of Jared Goff. After a 34-31 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers, Lions head coach Dan Campbell stated that his team’s appearance in the NFC Championship Game “may have been [the Lions’] only shot.”
He, of course, is talking about their Super Bowl chances.
And Campbell is absolutely right. Outside of the current NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, the last team to win the NFC title game the year after losing it was the 2012 49ers. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do and keep in mind the 2023 49ers suffered two straight conference championship losses before last night’s victory.
Whenever a head coach starts talking like that, changes always seem to follow. The Lions are expected to lose OC Ben Johnson to the Washington Commanders’ head coaching vacancy. Aaron Glenn has participated in multiple head coaching interviews. Frank Ragnow finished the year with virtually every body part causing him pain and the reality is that many current Lions will not return in 2024.
The Lions have already expressed an interest in replacing Goff at multiple points throughout Dan Campbell’s tenure. There was the Malik Willis discussion several years ago, the drafting of Hendon Hooker last year, and the multiple rumors swirling before this season.
Despite the success the Lions have had under Goff, the Lions’ front office has already made it known that they will upgrade a position at any time, even if there’s a solid starter already in that position. Jahmyr Gibbs for D’Andre Swift, Jack Campbell for Malcolm Rodriguez, and Penei Sewell for Hal Vaitai. The Lions are so confident in their ability to find talent that they traded their All-Pro tight end T.J. Hockenson to a division rival to then drafted a potentially even better tight end.
With all this being said, combined with Goff’s history, there’s a possibility that Goff’s eventual departure from Detroit could coincide with the career expectancy of Matthew Stafford. We all understand that McVay doesn’t want to groom another QB if he doesn’t have to, and considering the performance from the Rams’ recent runs of youthful quarterbacks, it’s safe to assume McVay wants a veteran gunslinger to take over for Stafford at some point.
This was made even more evident by the signing of Carson Wentz midway through the year.
Goff proved that he is a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback and that he’s not the same player he was on the Rams. Goff understands the offense at a higher echelon and he’s still in the prime of his career. With all bitter feelings seemingly water under the bridge, perhaps Goff could be destined to return to Los Angeles at some point down the line.