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A Breakdown of the Stafford/Goff Trade

stafford goff trade

The Detroit Lions traded Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff, 2021 third-round pick, 2022 first-round pick, and 2023 first-round pick. 

This trade was a big move for both teams because they each gave up their franchise quarterbacks. How does this stack up?

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions certainly got some value from their long time starter, Matthew Stafford. 

Let’s talk about the picks. 

The Lions draft capital for the next three NFL draft nights looks like this:

  • 2021: #7 overall, their own in rounds 2-6, plus Rams’ third-round pick
  • 2022: Two firsts, their own in rounds 2-7
  • 2023: Two firsts, their own in rounds 2-7

The Lions certainly exceeded in getting back the ammunition for their rebuild. They have two future first-rounders from a Rams team that has an unpredictable future with Stafford. The two first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 will be extremely helpful to their rebuild.

The Detroit Lions had the worst-ranked defense and the 20th ranked offense out of 32 teams last season. They fired their head coach and general manager too, initiating this rebuild. The picks will be handy for a team that needs help on both sides of the ball.

Now, let’s talk about the main guy.

Jared Goff, 26, is a five-year veteran in the NFL with two Pro Bowl appearances and a career 42-27 record. Goff made the Super Bowl in 2018 and lost to Tom Brady. 

Goff’s best season in 2018 got him 4,688 yards (293 yards per game), 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. In that year, he went to the Super Bowl and was selected to the Pro Bowl. 

Since then, Goff’s numbers have declined. This past season, he threw for 4,281 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. 

The Rams ran the ball 44.25% of plays (ninth in the NFL) this season. In 2019, they ran the ball 38.01% of the time (25th in the NFL). Clearly, Sean McVay, the Rams’ head coach, had attempted to develop their offense into a run-heavy scheme to keep Goff from being the focal point of the offense. In the end, they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs. 

Goff’s contract is another concern for the Lions. He signed a four-year $134 million extension with the Rams in 2019 making him the fifth highest-paid player in the NFL. He will be making north of $25 million per year in the next four years of his career. This hurts the Lions’ future cap space for attracting free agents. 

What’s the bottom line? Good trade. 

The Lions got a great return for Matthew Stafford in terms of valuation. Two first-round picks and a third-round pick is legit value for their future. Jared Goff was once one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and still has time to improve. Goff is a risk, but the Lions may still take a quarterback with the seventh overall pick and make Goff a bridge quarterback. 

Los Angeles Rams

What does the future look like for the Rams?

In terms of draft capital, not great. In the next three drafts, the Rams do not own a single first-round pick. Yikes. Outside of that, they will have most of their picks beyond round one with a few compensatory day two picks.

Now, the Rams have their guy. Matthew Stafford. 

Matthew Stafford is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in NFL history. He has been through a plethora of bad management, inefficient coaching, and experienced a lack of appreciation. Take Matt Patricia in the last two seasons, who had gone 13-29 in almost three seasons with the Lions. 

In his 12-year career, Stafford has thrown for 45,109 yards (16th all-time), 282 touchdowns (16th all-time), 144 interceptions, and a 62.6% completion percentage.

Stafford is also notorious for his health. From 2011-2018, Stafford played in every single regular season and playoff game available. He has only missed games in two seasons due to injury. Going into a team that had the second-lowest sack rate last season, versus the 21st with the Lions, should make an impact on his play. 

Stafford’s most impressive statistics come from his clutch ability. He has 31 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, tied for seventh all-time with John Elway. Stafford also has 38 game-winning drives to his name. He led the league twice in fourth-quarter comebacks and three times in game-winning drives. This is largely attractive for a Rams team that wants to make a run back at the Super Bowl. 

Interestingly enough, Stafford told Lions’ management that he would go anywhere but the Patriots. Bleacher Report seems to believe it was because of a disinterested reunion with Matt Patricia (who was re-signed by the Patriots) and due to the Patriots’ lack of depth in offensive talent.

But now, Stafford has a team ready to make a deep run in the playoffs. In all of Stafford’s career, he has had only three above-average ranked defenses. Goff, on the other hand, has had that many in his five years with the Rams, including the second-best last season. Stafford is walking into an established team with minimal roster needs. The Rams have one of the best defenses, offensive lines, receiving cores, and coaching staffs in the NFL.  

What’s the verdict? Another good trade.

Stafford allows the Rams to win now, versus Goff, who needs more improvement for immediate returns. The picks are a bullet the Rams will have to bite in the future, but if they can make Stafford work, it will be a win for them.

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