If he could have a do-over, Sean McVay would handle Jared Goff’s offseason trade to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford differently.
“I wish there was better, clearer communication,” McVay told reporters Monday, via ESPN. “To say that it was perfectly handled on my end, I wouldn’t be totally accurate in that. I’ll never claim to be perfect, but I will try to learn from some things that I can do better, and I think that was one of them without a doubt.”
After last season’s postseason exit, McVay and the Rams brass had been noncommittal toward Goff, who was benched in favor of John Wolford at the end of the regular season until a Wolford injury pressed Goff back into game action against the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. Detroit’s first-year general manager, Brad Holmes, who previously worked in the Rams front-office, worked on a deal to give Stafford a fresh start elsewhere.
In the aftermath of the trade, Goff noted the call with McVay after the trade lasted hardly more than a few short, emotionless exchanges – their first contact since the season had ended – that left Goff caught off guard. McVay now regrets freezing Goff out.
“It came together a lot faster than anybody anticipated,” McVay, 35, said, “but yeah, of course I think that any time that tough decisions and things like that where people are affected, you always want to be as understanding, as empathetic as possible, think about it through the other person’s lens and there’s certainly things that I know I would do it a little bit differently if – when those situations arise in the future.”
The quarterback swap, sweetened by the Rams with three draft picks (two first-rounders) going to the Lions, placed both organizations on opposite trajectories.
After falling to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2019, the Rams and Goff regressed – missing the 2020 postseason and falling last year to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. With Stafford producing at record levels in his new partnership with McVay and Los Angeles’ offensive weapons at his disposal, the Rams are 5-1 and first in the NFC. The 33-year-old leads the league in QBR (75.0) with 16 touchdowns and 1,838 passing yards. His 9.2 yards per passing attempt ranks second in the league behind injured Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
“We felt like it was a rare opportunity to acquire a player of Matthew’s caliber,” McVay told reporters. “Those opportunities just don’t come up often.”
The Lions, however, are 0-6 under first-year head coach Dan Campbell. Goff hasn’t thrown a touchdown in the Lions’ last two losses. In addition to four interceptions this year, he’s lost four fumbles. The Lions haven’t scored more than 17 points since the Week 1 when they made a comeback attempt against the San Francisco 49ers.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.