The carousel has begun to turn…
The first blockbuster trade of what is expected to be a dynamic offseason for quarterbacks kicked off Saturday as the Detroit Lions sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2021 third-round selection, two future first-round selections (2022/2023), and former Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff.
Alongside newly named Lions head coach Dan Campbell, Detroit general manager—former head of college scouting for the Rams—Brad Holmes immediately showed he isn’t gun-shy, sending the former face of the franchise to Los Angeles in return for the immensely talented Goff, who is still just 26. Although in a current state of an obvious rebuild, Detroit now has their signal-caller of the future, and that, for Lions fans, is a positive step on their journey to get back to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2016.
For Los Angeles, they got their man. And for what they gave up, the price didn’t seem to be an issue.
Has it ever been?
Looking back over the past six drafts, Los Angeles has made just one (!) first-round selection: Goff in 2016. Since then, the Rams lost their 2017 selection in moving up with Tennessee to select the former Cal signal-caller. In 2018, the team traded away their selection for Brandin Cooks. In 2019, they opted to trade back. Last year and this year’s first-round picks? Sent to Jacksonville to acquire All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey. If you’re counting, Los Angeles is enduring a stretch where they will not select in the first round for seven consecutive drafts.
Long story short, Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay had their sights set on Stafford and were willing to give anything to have him in the City of Angels.
The Rams will receive criticism—deservedly so—for the assets they’ve gotten rid of to acquire veteran talent in just the past couple of seasons. Now, the franchise undeniably hinges on the shoulders of McVay, who now is tasked with leading a roster back to the Super Bowl with little wiggle room transactionally. But will it matter?
For the entirety of his coaching career, from offensive coordinator in Washington in 2014 to now entering his fifth season as the head coach in Los Angeles, McVay has never had his guy starting under center. He had zero say when Washington took Robert Griffin III in 2012 when he was a tight ends coach for the burgundy and gold. Griffin, joined by Kirk Cousins, selected in the fourth round of that same draft, both worked alongside McVay while in DC. Moreover, Goff already had a year under his belt when McVay first stepped foot into the Rams’ facility in January of 2017. Again, not his decision.
But now, the aptly nicknamed “wonderboy” coach of the NFL has his shiny new toy, and the Rams could soon see themselves back atop of the NFC.
The combination of McVay and Stafford is special. In fact, from a football IQ and schematic standpoint, it rivals Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid duo. Yes, they could be that special. Forget about the lack of cap space—sixth worst in the NFL—and lack of draft picks, Stafford has immediately become the most talented passer the Rams’ franchise has had since Marc Bulger.
Stafford leaves Detroit as the team's all-time leader in every major passing category. He sits at 16th all-time in both passing yards (45,109) and passing touchdowns (282), and No. 14 in completions (3,898). Additionally, Stafford ranks fourth all-time in passing yards per game (273.4) behind just Mahomes, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck. Stafford has had his share of weapons out wide, but only Calvin Johnson was a true dominant threat on the outside. Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay have made for a nice duo, and Golden Tate enjoyed a few campaigns of solid work with Stafford, but that’s nothing compared to what the former 2009 first overall selection will experience while in Los Angeles. Enter Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and impressive rookie talent Van Jefferson, alongside a youth-infused backfield, and Stafford is in prime position to show he surely has much more in the tank.
Just how far will Stafford and the Rams go in 2021?
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