Well, the 2021 offseason has been kick started in a BIG way. In an offseason where we anticipate an unprecedented number of quarterbacks to move, two of the bigger dominos fell last night. Matthew Stafford is headed to the Los Angeles Rams and Jared Goff, a 2021 third round pick, 2022 first round pick and a 2023 first round pick are headed back to Detroit.
What this means for the Los Angeles Rams
This immediately puts the Rams squarely in the driver seat for the NFC. The Rams have lived without first round picks since 2016 when they took Jared Goff first overall, so they will be able to keep on trucking forward. They get an upgrade at the quarterback position but mainly they get rid of a straining relationship between Jared Goff and head coach Sean McVay. When Jared Goff said he was healthy enough to start against the Seahawks in the Wild Card round and McVay instead opted for John Wolford, it was a sign of things to come. Next, were the quotes after the loss in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers where McVay stated, “He’s the quarterback, right now.” That was followed by the announcement that Goff and Wolford would be in a quarterback competition leading into the 2021 season, all which led to the divorce between the Rams and Goff. The salary cap situation for the Rams becomes slightly better as well. Goff’s cap hit in 2021 is $27.8 million and Stafford’s is $20 million. Unless the Rams extend Stafford, this would appear to be a two-year window at a minimum, to gear up for a championship run. Expect this Rams offense to be one of the best in the league and feature plenty of play action passes and a vertical passing game, as McVay looks to take advantage of Stafford’s arm talent.
What this means for the Detroit Lions
This was a no-brainer move for Detroit. You get Matthew Stafford to his ideal landing spot keeping that relationship healthy, which they have struggled with in the past with former superstars Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. You get yourself two future first round picks, which now gives them five first round picks in the next three drafts. Lastly, you get yourself the best stopgap quarterback in the NFL for minimal impact.
Jared Goff Dead Cap Money (via spotrac.com):
2021: $43.2 Million
2022: $15.5 Million
The reason those numbers go down to $0: An option in the contract to cut Goff after the 2022 season for $0. Jared Goff will be the starter in Detroit in 2021. However, let's say he goes out and the change of scenery awakens the Goff from 2016-2018 that we knew? The Lions could be in a position to then move him next offseason to gain even more assets. If he doesn’t, you can cut bait for, literally, nothing.
The Lions pick seventh overall in this spring's NFL Draft. It is very possible that they could still take a quarterback but it doesn’t force them to take one. They can wait and rebuild the defense which needs a complete overhaul, from the failure of the previous regime or, if they fall in love with a quarterback during the draft process, they can use the picks they gained from this trade and trade up to get their quarterback of the future.
This is a full rebuild in Detroit. Goff will hold down the job for a year or two and the Lions will have his successor ready to take over. However, this move gives the Lions a future. It gives options and it provides hope. The phrase, ‘Trust the process,’ never rang more true.
What this means for the rest of the NFL
The rest of the league was put on notice last night. The quarterback market was set. A soon-to be 33 year-old quarterback was traded for a younger, two time pro bowler, NFC Champion quarterback, two first round picks and a third round pick.
What is DeShaun Watson going to cost? What is Aaron Rodgers, if he is actually available, going to cost?
As mentioned before, in an offseason unlike any we have seen with a ton of teams uncertain about their quarterback position, you can expect some monster moves and this was just the start.
Buckle up and enjoy the ride.