“With Rams coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead giving quarterback Jared Goff no vote of confidence, the team that selected Goff with the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft appears poised to move on.”
That is the first sentence of a Los Angeles Times story posted Thursday that goes on to name a number of quarterbacks the Rams might pursue if the Rams do indeed move on from the former Cal standout.
And guess who is one of the seven quarterbacks the Times names as a player the Rams might go after if they give up on Goff?
Former Cal star Aaron Rodgers
A little background before we get into the Rodgers issue.
In a Los Angeles Times story earlier in the week, Rams general manager Les Snead was asked if there was a scenario in which Goff would not be on the roster next season.
“What I can say is Jared’s Goff’s a Ram in this moment,” Snead said during a video conference with the media. “It’s way too early to speculate the future. That’s a beautiful mystery.”
You may remember the “beautiful mystery” quote is undeniably a reference to what Rodgers said earlier this week when describing his uncertain future.
In any case, the GM’s statement was hardly a ringing endorsement for Goff, and seems noncommittal at best. It’s similar to the comments of coach Sean McVay, who said after the Rams’ playoff loss that Goff is the Rams quarterback “for now.”
In a column with the headline: “Having lost confidence in Jared Goff, Rams need to move on,” Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke stated this about Goff's status:
"His potential departure turned probable Tuesday when general manager Les Snead echoed the earlier vote of uncertainty from coach Sean McVay."
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Goff took the Rams to the Super Bowl in 2018, was named to the Pro Bowl in 2017 and 2018 and has been the Rams’ starting quarterback since midway through his rookie season in 2016.
But when he injured his right thumb in the 15th game of this season, requiring surgery, John Wolford, who had never played in a regular-season NFL game, started the regular-season finale. Wolford also started the playoff game against Seattle, although Goff played most of that game after Wolford suffered a neck injury.
But it was not until Wolford was ruled out three days before the playoff game against the Packers that Goff was named the starter for that game. The inference is that McVay might have started Wolford against Green Bay if he had been healthy.
And Goff’s status for next year has been a topic ever since.
The chief issue with Goff, it seems, is his limited mobility. Three of the four quarterbacks in the conference championship games -- Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Rodgers -- had the mobility to avoid a pass rush and make plays on the run. The fourth was Tom Brady, who does plenty of other things to offset his mobility deficiency. It has also been reported that Goff does not have the fiery personality McVay would like to see, although Goff's calm demeanor was considered an asset when the Rams were winning.
Money obviously is an issue with the Goff situation. Prior to the 2019 season, the Rams signed Goff to a $134 million extension, with $110 million guaranteed. The contract runs through the 2024 season.
If the Rams release Goff, the team would take a $65.2-million dead cap hit, so a trade or free-agent signing is the most probable way to replace him.
The Rams took a big financial hit last year when they released running back Todd Gurley, so it seems nothing is off the table.
“Moving on from Jared Goff, the money we’ve invested, that isn’t easy to overcome … [but] anything can be done in a cap-based system,” Snead said, according to Greg Beacham of Associated Press.
The L.A. Times concluded that a trade or free-agent signing would be the most likely way to replace Goff, and it produced seven names as possible replacements.
Those names included Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans, Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, Sam Darnold of the New York Jets, Wolford, who is already on the Rams roster, and Rodgers.
Rodgers, who played at Cal in 2003 and 2004, has been getting plenty of attention for his comments about his status with the Packers heading into next season. His most recent comments came on Tuesday:
"I don't think that there is any reason why I wouldn't be back," Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee show. "But look, there's not many absolutes in this business. So to make an absolute statement about something that is not an absolute, I didn't do it. And I guess that's why it went kind of nuts."
Believe me, Rodgers is a smart guy and he knows what his qualified statements suggest. If he had no issues with the Packers, he would merely be talking about how the team is going to rally around the defeat against the Buccaneers and come out stronger than ever in 2021. He didn’t do that.
It leads to an entertaining debate among ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Pat McAfee and others about Rodgers’ situation.
In its itemized rundown of possible replacements for Goff, the L.A. Times said this about Rodgers.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
NFL experience: 16 seasons
Career stats: 51,245 yards passing, 412 TDs, 89 INTs
Salary cap number: 2021-$37.2 million, 2022-$39.9 million, 2023-$28.4 million
The probable 2020 NFL MVP played like it during the Green Bay Packers’ NFC divisional-round victory over the Rams. But in the days leading up to last Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC championship game, Rodgers hinted he might be ready to move on. Rodgers described his future as “a beautiful mystery,” a phrase Snead quoted four times this week when discussing Goff and the Rams.
Mike Florio reported on Pro Football Talk that Rodgers is seeking a new contract.
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer chimed in while answering a question on whether Goff has played his last game as a Ram.
Ed, it’s possible—and I’d probably put the Rams in a category with the Raiders and Niners where I believe they’d consider an upgrade if it’s available to them. Whether one materializes, I don’t know. But the chance of that happening, given the names being thrown around out there (Matthew Stafford, Sam Darnold, etc.) is much greater than it was even last year, when there was a pretty healthy amount of quarterback movement.
Cover photo of Jared Goff by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
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