The Lions had to take Jared Goff’s toxic contract to receive maximum draft compensation from the Rams, but that doesn’t mean they have to keep him.
Fans in Detroit chomping at the bit to order their Jared Goff jerseys might want to exercise some caution. There’s no guarantee that Goff ever takes a single snap for the Lions.
Goff was dealt to the Lions as an intensely negative asset due to his bloated contract. Detroit’s front office accepted him as part of the Matthew Stafford trade because it allowed them to maximize the amount of draft capital headed their way in the deal. Presumably, the Rams were only willing to include two first-rounders and one third-rounder because it allowed them to offload Goff’s contract.
One intriguing aspect of the deal is that Goff’s contract immediately becomes significantly less toxic the minute he becomes a member of the Lions’ roster. Detroit can trade him without incurring any of the dead cap that made his deal such an issue for the Rams.
He’s still due over $52 million in guaranteed money before a team can get out of the deal before the 2023 season. That makes him an overpaid quarterback, but it’s nowhere near as overpaid as he was when employed by Los Angeles.
What should the Lions do?
There’s no way Goff can succeed as the Lions’ starting quarterback in 2021. If he plays up to his full potential then he’ll help Detroit flirt with a .500 record. That won’t get the Lions into the playoffs. Instead, it will prevent them from getting the type of premium draft pick they need to really accelerate the rebuilding process.
If Goff plays poorly that will alleviate the draft issue, but it still leaves Detroit paying a bad quarterback a massive salary. That’s not a recipe for success for a rebuilding team. The Lions should only commit significant long-term money to young veterans who can be a part of the team’s emerging corps of the future.
The solution for Detroit is clear. They need to offload Goff before he ever takes a snap for the franchise. It’s conceivable that another team might believe he’s capable of helping them as an above-average starter in 2021 and beyond. Any team suffering from that line of thinking should be willing to take Goff (and his contract) on without requiring the Lions to give them an asset for that privilege.
The Lions should make Goff available to any team willing to take on his contract. Giving him away would be a big win for Detroit. Keeping him could put the team’s rebuilding project at risk before it ever gets started.