If Rams are searching for a new QB, Matthew Stafford could make some sense

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Cameron DaSilva
·4 min read
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Sean McVay stirred up some controversy last week when he wouldn’t commit to Jared Goff as the Los Angeles Rams’ starting quarterback. He said the Rams will have competition at all spots, and that includes starting quarterback.

Goff will be difficult for the Rams to move because of the simple fact that his contract is massive, but a trade can’t be ruled out. If the Rams trade Goff, they’ll eat $22.2 million in dead money, which is much more palatable than a $65.5 million dead cap hit if he’s outright released.

In the event that the Rams do try to move on from Goff, Matthew Stafford would make some sense. The Detroit Lions and Stafford are expected to part ways this offseason, with the team exploring trade options.

Stafford, 32, is no spring chicken and is about seven years older than Goff, but he’s still a very capable quarterback. With very little help in Detroit this season, he threw for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It was his sixth straight season with a passer rating of at least 89.9, averaging a strong 7.7 yards per attempt.

He brings a style of play that’s different than Goff’s, too. A true gunslinger, Stafford isn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield and take shots to his receivers deep. That’s not something Goff did often this season, opting for conservative throws underneath – either due to play design for a lack of confidence throwing downfield.

Stafford ranked eighth in the NFL in intended air yards (9.0) this season, while Goff had the fourth-lowest IAY at only 6.5. Goff’s lack of aggressiveness held back the Rams offense, forcing them to dink and dunk their way down the field instead of striking quickly.

Stafford’s mobility and subtle pocket movements are also traits McVay covets in a quarterback. Though no one will mistake him for Josh Allen, Stafford is plenty mobile and can extend plays with his legs to create throwing lanes. That’s not something Goff does much – at least not in the last two years.

Just look at this highlight reel from the Lions’ miraculous win over the Falcons where Stafford led them down the field on a game-winning drive.

Of course, the Rams’ ability to make a change at quarterback comes down to moving Goff and finding a trade partner for him. Could the Lions be the perfect landing spot? For starters, Brad Holmes is the Lions’ general manager, and he was the college scouting director with the Rams when they drafted Goff first overall in 2016.

He likely thought highly of Goff back then, and while he’s regressed in the last two seasons, Holmes could still have faith in Goff as a starting quarterback. And with Dan Campbell at the helm as the head coach now, it’s no surprise Detroit wants to make a change.

Then comes the contract situation. Stafford has two years left on his deal, with a cap hit of $33 million in 2021. The Rams would only take on his future salaries of $9.5 million next season and $12.5 million in 2022.

Goff is signed through 2024 and carries a cap hit of $34.6 million in 2021. His base salary ($25.3 million) is much higher than Stafford’s next season, but then it drops to $10 million in 2022 and then becomes $20 million and $21 million in his final two seasons in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

There’s not a huge difference between these contracts, which makes it a feasible trade for the Rams and Lions to make. The Rams would eat $22.2 million in dead money by trading Goff, which is better than the $65.5 million if they were to release him.

Stafford could also restructure or redo his contract with his new team, but as Michael Ginnitti points out, the team acquiring him will need $20 million in cap space when the deal is made – which the Rams don’t have right now.

And then what would be the compensation required to land Stafford? If the Rams were to make an offer for the Lions quarterback, they would almost have to include Goff. Then, they’d probably have to throw in at least a second-round pick this year, and possibly another second next year.

The Rams would be getting an upgrade at quarterback, while the Lions would be getting younger at the position and also adding two top-65 picks in the process.

It’s still unlikely to happen, but it absolutely should not be ruled out because of the situations that these two franchises are in. The Rams are in win-now mode, while the Lions are in a slight rebuild with a new regime stepping in.