The Detroit Lions made the trade of Matthew Stafford official on Thursday morning, one day after the new league year turned over. So why did they wait the extra day to announce the deal after having nearly two months to hammer out details? Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap may have the answer.
Per Fitzgerald, Jared Goff was due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 18. We all assumed that roster bonus would come to Detroit with Goff and a haul of draft picks, but by waiting the extra day, the onus for that bonus stays with the Los Angeles Rams.
“Since the trade was not executed before today that should remain with the Rams, increasing Goff’s dead money with the Rams by $2.5 million and reducing the Lions responsibility for Goff by $2.5 million,” Fitzgerald wrote in an explainer on Thursday morning.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero confirmed the Rams would be eating the bonus.
Of course, this wasn’t a sneaky move the Lions pulled over on the Rams. This was likely something the two sides agreed to as part of the original deal. For the Lions, it means that Goff’s initial expected 2021 cap hit of $28.15 million will actually be $25.65 million, per OverTheCap.com—a savings of $2.5 million.
While that may not seem like much, that’s the cost of at least one more free agency. Say, for example, a backup quarterback from a division rival who may have signed exactly a one-year, $2.5 million contract.