Matthew Stafford Traded to the Rams: Full Deal Breakdown and Analysis

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) drops back to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Ford Field.

In the first big deal of the NFL offseason, the Detroit Lions traded quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a package headlined by quarterback Jared Goff. NFL insider Adam Schefter first reported the deal.

This deal certainly adjusts the dynamics of both teams. Here is the breakdown of the trade for both the Rams and Lions.

Why The Rams Did This Deal

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The Rams’ postseason hopes were cut short after a defeat to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. Though their run included an impressive win over the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard, it was another tough playoff loss for a team that had reached the Super Bowl just two years prior. The team needed a major change, and swapping Goff for Stafford was just that.

Since losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl 53, Goff and the Rams offense has not looked the same. After head coach Sean McVay arrived in 2017, the Rams offense became one of the best in the league. That same offense is now hovering around league average, partly due to Goff’s play. Over the last two seasons, Goff ranks 2nd in the NFL in turnovers with 38.

McVay�s frustration with Goff�s play boiled over in Week 12 of this past season. Following a 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, McVay expressed his frustration with Goff�s turnovers and said something must change. While he was struggling with nagging injuries during the playoff run, it was clear that Goff would never return to his Super Bowl-contending form while in a Ram jersey. This was a tough blow for the Rams to give up on Goff, given the draft capital they have invested into him over the years.

Stafford’s Impact on The Rams

Swapping Stafford for Goff makes sense for the Rams. Stafford’s above-average play has flown under the radar due to the Lions’ lackluster performance for the last few seasons. While he is not the flashiest player, he plays efficient and smart football while limiting mistakes. Stafford ranks 16th all-time in total passing yards with 45,109. He also ranks 4th all-time in passing yards per game with 273.4. McVay will be delighted to work with a quarterback who can effectively run the system he currently has in place in Los Angeles.

The price was not cheap for Stafford, however. In addition to Goff, the Rams gave up two first-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a 2021 third-round pick. Had Goff still been on his rookie deal, the Rams may have been spared giving up the two first-rounders. However, Goff’s new contract has a cap hit of over 25 million for each of the next four seasons. Barring a drastic turn of events, Goff will likely never live up to a contract of that magnitude. The additional draft compensation made it worthwhile for the Lions to take on Goff’s excessive contract.

The Rams’ strategy has always been to move their first-round picks in exchange for proven players. Since selecting Goff at first overall in 2016, the Rams have not made one first-round selection. The Rams are banking that Stafford will push the team past at least the divisional round in the coming season. That would make the two firsts fall to the low 20s or high 30s. Given the teams’ aspirations of a Super Bowl, it is a risk the Rams should be willing to take.

Why The Lions Did This Deal

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Moving from Stafford to Goff is undoubtedly a downgrade for Detroit. As discussed in the section above, Goff has a lot of work to do before being anywhere close to the form he was in two years ago. However, given the Lions’ current trajectory, the deal makes sense.

There was a report that Stafford and the Lions had mutually agreed it was time to go their separate ways. After 11 seasons with Stafford, it was clear that the Lions would never reach the next level with him at quarterback.

The two first-rounders and additional third-rounder this year will be very valuable to Detroit. These selections will allow the Lions to draft players that fit the system of the new coaching staff. Detroit has a lot of needs on both sides of the ball. With a top-10 pick this year and four first-rounders over the next two years, Detroit is well on their way to rebuilding the franchise.

Goff’s Impact on the Lions

Lions general manager Brad Holmes clearly has a soft spot for Goff. He was the Rams director of college scouting when the Rams traded up 14 slots to select Goff at 1st overall in 2016. Holmes will hope that new head coach Dan Campbell can coax the best out of Goff for at least the remainder of his contract. Goff is still just 26 years of age, young by quarterback standards. A change of scenery may be what Goff needs to find his Super Bowl-contending form.

Moving on from Stafford will be tough for this organization. He poured his heart and soul into this team since being selected first overall in 2009. Playing through injuries and other various ailments was a regular occurrence for Stafford.

When he had to miss the final eight games of the 2019 season due to fractured bones in his back, it ended a streak of 136 straight starts — at the time the sixth-longest consecutive starts streak for a quarterback in NFL history.

Michael Rothstein and Lindsey Thiry, ESPN

By replacing Stafford with Goff, the Lions start a new chapter of the franchise and will hope to make it past at least the wildcard in the next season for the first time since 1991.

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