On Wednesday morning, news broke that the Detroit Lions had restructured the contract of quarterback Jared Goff. The Lions took $20 million of Goff’s 2021 salary and converted that into a signing bonus that goes in Goff’s pocket immediately, but the cap hit of which is spread across the next four years of his contract evenly. In the most simplest of terms, the Lions took $15 million off of this year’s salary cap and spread it over 2022, 2023, and 2024 evenly—$5 million extra per year.
This drew… well, a lot of a feelings. In less than an hour our story on the move had over 100 comments. As I write this, the comments are currently well over 300—the most this site has seen in a single article since January. So I think it’s fair to say that this move has brought out a lot of impassioned opinions on the matter. So let’s throw it to a poll for some valuable data.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Do you approve of this contract restructure of Jared Goff?
My answer: Absolutely.
It’s easy to say that the Lions should be taking their lumps right now while the team is crappy. It’s easy to say that the Lions should take all the necessary cap hits right now, suck in 2021, and then have a clear conscience and a clear salary cap in the years ahead. And you wouldn’t be wrong either.
And in order to get under the cap—in addition to those cuts—they’ve made Nick Williams take a paycut, they gave Romeo Okwara an extension that only counts $4.5 million against the 2021 cap, and every free agent signing they’ve made so far—including the Michael Brockers trade and new contract—includes a cap hit of less that $5 million this season.
And despite all of that, not only do they have a roster filled with far too many holes to be competitive this year, they are also completely up against the salary cap. After the Williams pay cut, the Lions had about $4 million left in cap space accounting for what it would cost to pay their rookie class. That’s essentially no wiggle room to fill the dozens of roster spots still necessary for training camp, nor is it a significant amount to carry into the season if an emergency situation happens.
Is it ideal to kick Goff’s cap hits down the road? No. But at this point, it was an absolute necessity. The Lions had mostly run out of options to create cap space, and so they were left with what is honestly a pretty easy decision.
Goff’s contract was set up perfect for this restructure for two reasons. One, he had a high salary that could be converted to a signing bonus. Two, he had a lot of years remaining on that contract, so that the signing bonus could be spread thinner.
In the end, this move only has a couple of downsides. First, it essentially guarantees Goff will be on the roster for two years, not one, regardless of his performance on the field. Additionally, it adds dead money where there previously was none beyond 2022.
But those downsides are negligible to me. For one, the Lions were likely prepared to commit to Goff for at least two years anyways, and given his age and his wild success just two years ago, I have no problem giving him a two-year tryout. As for the other, if it doesn’t work out and the Lions cut ties before the 2023 season, paying an extra $5 million in 2022 and then $10 million in dead cap in 2023 isn’t the end of the world. It’s not as good as zero dollars, but in today’s NFL $15 extra million over two years really isn’t something that will hamper this team in the long nor short term.
You may want the Lions to completely throw in the towel in 2021, but that was never going to happen under Dan Campbell, nor should it. They’re taking their lumps, they’re planning for the future, but they’re still trying to build a culture here. Sporting a undermanned team was never an option, and that would be the quickest way to lose both the locker room and the coaching staff. Not a great idea for a “culture rebuild.”
And look at their approach to free agency thus far. They’re still doing the absolute minimum to get by, hoping that they get a few compensatory picks and maybe hit on a couple of one-year prove it deals with low risk, high reward players. No long term deals or overpays. Just scraping by.
So, yes, Goff will cost a few extra million down the line, but that isn’t going to kill this team’s future. It was the right move, and quite possibly the only move.
Do you approve of the Jared Goff contract restructure?
176 votes total