Examining the Goff-Stafford Trade

Photo by Paul Sancya of The Associated Press

In a rare swap of established NFL players, quarterbacks and former number one overall picks Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford are switching teams.

The Deal:

Detroit Lions Receive: Jared Goff, 2022 First Round Pick (LAR), 2023 First Round Pick (LAR), and 2021 Third Round Pick (LAR)

Los Angeles Rams Receive: Matthew Stafford

What it means for the Rams:

The Rams paid quite a high price for Matthew Stafford, but they also got quite an upgrade at the most important position in football. Stafford will have his best supporting cast yet in Los Angeles. He will get to throw the ball to Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee while also having the support of a strong ground game led by Cam Akers. He will have the added benefit of going from an offensive line that allowed 38 sacks in 2020 to one that only allowed 23. Stafford will now get to work with offensive guru Sean McVay after spending his last few years under the tutelage of Matt Patricia, who is now back in New England and presumably the reason Stafford asked not to be traded there.

The Rams are making a huge win-now move here. Barring a trade, the Rams next first round pick won’t be until 2024, and their last first round selection was Jared Goff in 2016. The Rams are currently sitting north of $35 million over the salary cap in part due to a $22.2 million dead cap hit from trading Goff (Spotrac). The Rams will have to heavily rely on draft picks and the fringes of free agency to add to a roster that has tons of star power, but could use some depth in the worst way. This was very evident with the Packers running all over the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round even before Aaron Donald’s injury. On paper, Stafford is an upgrade. He threw 26 TDs against 10 INTs last year compared to Goff’s 20-13. The Rams will find themselves among the favorites to win the NFC West, but without a Super Bowl victory, this deal could set the Rams franchise back for years to come.

What it means for the Lions:

The Lions are now in full rebuild mode, and they will have a year to determine whether Jared Goff is the solution at quarterback. If he is their solution, the Lions will have a younger franchise QB signed through the 2024 season. If he is not their solution, they will have ammunition to trade up and snag a top QB in an upcoming draft. Either way, the Lions are armed with two first round draft picks in 2022 and 2023 that will help them greatly improve their roster. If the new coaching staff fixes Jared Goff and they hit on these draft picks, this deal could be a steal for the Lions.

That was the bright side of this deal as it pertains to the Lions future. As for 2021, however, the Lions do not look so good. They currently sit about $10 million over the salary cap (Spotrac). This is with both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones being set for free agency. Couple that with a downgraded running game and Goff faces an uphill climb in his quest to be the guy in Detroit. As previously mentioned, the Lions offensive line allowed Stafford to be the 7th most sacked quarterback in 2020, and is just one more area of need for the Lions to fill. Lastly, the Lions boast one of the league’s worst defenses as they struggle to generate pressure and could use help in the secondary. The 2020 Lions have already said goodbye to their coaching staff and quarterback, and stand to potentially lose his top two receiving targets. Not a good outlook for a team currently in cap hell.