What we’ve known for more than six weeks is official: the Detroit Lions completed a trade Wednesday with the Los Angeles Rams, shipping out starting quarterback Matthew Stafford in exchange for another former No. 1 pick, quarterback Jared Goff, and future draft picks.
In addition to Goff, the Lions will receive the Rams’ third-round pick this year and the team’s first-round selections in 2022 and 2023.
The deal carries significant, previously reported cap ramifications. For the Lions, the team cleared $14 million in space in parting with Stafford, while $19 million in dead money, from previously paid bonuses, will linger on this year’s cap.
With Goff, the Lions inherit a quarterback who is under contract for another four seasons and carries a $27.8 million cap hit for the upcoming season. That dips to $25.5 million in 2022.
The immediate question the Lions face is how long are they committed to Goff; does the team view him as a long-term solution or a bridge to a franchise quarterback to be added this draft or the next?
Goff’s contract structure means the Lions could move on as early as next offseason. Conversely, they could solidify their commitment through the 2022 season by restructuring Goff’s contract upon his arrival, which would subsequently free up cap space to further bolster the roster this offseason.
In Detroit, Goff will be looking to rehabilitate his career. After earning back-to-back Pro Bowl selections in 2017 and 2018, and leading the Rams to the Super Bowl the latter season, he’s struggled the past two years. He’s posted a below-average passer rating of 88.1 during that stretch, a figure anchored by the 29 interceptions he’s thrown since 2019.
Stafford, meanwhile, heads to Los Angeles after 12 seasons with Detroit. During his time with the Lions, he broke nearly every single-season and career passing record in franchise history.
With the Rams, Stafford will have an opportunity to achieve the team success that eluded him in Detroit. In his 12 seasons, Stafford has made three trips to the postseason, but has never experienced a playoff victory or divisional title.