The Rams making Jared Goff the NFL’s second-highest-paid player in September 2019 ended up benefiting the Lions, who capitalized on the former No. 1 overall pick’s depressed value barely 16 months later. Agreeing to take on Goff’s $33.5M-per-year contract led to the Lions picking up an extra first-round pick in the January 2021 Matthew Stafford trade.
Detroit has kept Goff on that 2019 extension; the former Super Bowl starter is the only QB still attached to a deal agreed to during the 2010s. Extension rumors have circulated this year. Goff’s camp was believed to be targeting a new deal, and the Lions were reported to be engaging in dialogue on an updated contract. While this would be an interesting deal to complete, one GM told the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora the Lions want to extend Goff, whose contract has fallen to 16th at the position.
Completing a Goff extension might be trickier for the Lions than it was for the Rams. In 2019, the Super Bowl LIII starter was viewed as an ascending talent going into his age-25 season. He had come off two straight quality seasons under Sean McVay, and while the Cal product was not viewed as necessarily a top-tier starter, he was seen as a rising player coming into his prime. Goff did not live up to that deal in Los Angeles and saw a midcareer regression lead him to Detroit, where he struggled in 2021. Early in his age-29 season, however, Goff is in a much better place — as the unquestioned starter for a team that has constructed an atypical rebuild around him.
Not taking the route most rebuilding teams have, the Lions have never enjoyed a modern rookie quarterback contract. Stafford’s was signed during the 2006 CBA’s duration; that agreement doubled as the last before the slot system changed NFL roster building. Stafford signed a six-year, $72M deal upon being chosen No. 1 overall in 2009. By comparison, Bryce Young is only attached to a four-year, $37.9M accord.
The Lions still managed to build up their roster around Goff, thanks to the picks the Rams provided and the QB market igniting during the early 2020s. They have assembled a quality offensive line and found a promising play-caller in Ben Johnson, who moved off the HC carousel this offseason. Goff on a new contract would change the equation, though an extension would lower his cap number from $31.9M in 2024 place.
Although Goff has performed well on the heels of his bounce-back 2022 — a season that featured the eighth-year passer rank fifth in QBR (a career-high placement) — the Lions may still want to see more from him. Of course, the better Goff plays this year, the more he will be able to command on his next deal. Through three games, Detroit’s starter ranks fourth in QBR. Goff’s contract runs through the 2024 season, and the salary cap is expected to make another big jump next year. With the $50M-per-year club being firmly established this offseason, the Lions may have a difficult negotiation coming.
Multiple execs told La Canfora they would shy away from authorizing a big-ticket Goff extension in line with the position’s current upper echelon, while another pegged Detroit’s QB as being worth at least a $45M-per-year contract. While that would represent a sizable raise for Goff, the resurgent quarterback’s camp could also argue the cap growth and booming QB market would justify a payday north of $50M AAV.
Goff, Stafford and a 2000 Charlie Batch one-off are the only Lions QBs to complete a winning season over the past 25 years. A Detroit NFC North title, or even a wild-card berth two years after a 3-13-1 season, would only boost Goff’s value, and he will likely have this season to convince Lions brass he is worth a mega deal. It is unknown if the sides will get serious about a negotiation during the season, but of the 15 QB contracts that have since topped Goff’s, none of them were signed in-season.