Month: November 2021

Goff-Stafford Fallout: Rams, Lions, Suitors

Sean McVay‘s call to Jared Goff informing him of the Ramsdecision to trade him ended quickly, but the five-year starter will exit a rapidly deteriorating (for him) situation. Both McVay and Les Snead gave suboptimal endorsements of Goff’s 2021 status recently. While the Lions could well draft a quarterback with their first-round pick, Goff is now set up to be the starter in Detroit.

I’m just excited to be somewhere that I know wants me and appreciates me,” Goff said, via NFL.com’s Michael Silver. “I’m moving forward and couldn’t be more excited to build a winner there. I’m excited about Dan (Campbell) and the whole staff.”

Goff had entered the past four Rams seasons as the team’s unquestioned starter and will now attempt to stabilize his career in Detroit. The Rams will host the Lions at some point next season. Here is the latest from Saturday night’s blockbuster trade:

  • Several teams made offers for Matthew Stafford. We can add Washington to that list. The NFC East champions presented the Lions an offer featuring more 2021 assets than the Rams offered, Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets. It can be assumed Washington was willing to part with its first-round pick — No. 19 overall — but the team’s proposal could not match the unique opportunity the Lions had in leveraging Goff’s lavish contract into a monster Rams package. Washington has Alex Smith and Kyle Allen under contract for 2021, but Smith’s status is far from certain and Allen is coming off a severe injury. Taylor Heinicke is set to be an RFA.
  • Joining the Panthers, Broncos, Patriots and Washington in pursuing Stafford: the 49ers, Colts and Bears, according to NBC Sports’ Peter King (Twitter link) and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. All of these teams have quarterback questions, though the 49ers have indicated Jimmy Garoppolo will be their starter next season. A Bears deal would have certainly qualified as farfetched, but Chicago made an effort at a rare intra-divisional trade. Mitchell Trubisky is a free agent and obviously has not delivered anything close to what the Bears envisioned when they drafted him. Nick Foles is under contract for 2021, but the Bears, at the very least, will bring in competition for a quarterback they benched this season. The Colts lost Philip Rivers to retirement and have Jacoby Brissett as a UFA-to-be. While Jim Irsay said he would welcome Andrew Luck back, nothing has transpired on this front in a while.
  • Goff has already spoken with Campbell and other Lions staffers, and Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) the five-year veteran has a physical coming soon. While the Lions could technically fail Goff on his physical and void the trade, Darlington adds that based on Goff’s early conversations with Detroit coaches it can clearly be assumed the former No. 1 overall pick will be the team’s starter to open the 2021 season.

Joe Barry, Chris Harris, Ejiro Evero On Packers’ DC Radar

The Packers will soon replace Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator, and some early candidates emerged Sunday night. Green Bay plans to interview or already has met with new Chargers defensive passing-game coordinator Joe Barry, Washington secondary coach Chris Harris and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

Matt LaFleur has ties to two of these assistants. Barry, who served as Washington’s defensive coordinator from 2015-20, was with LaFleur in Los Angeles during the 2017 season. The Chargers just hired Barry from L.A., where he spent the past four seasons as the Rams’ linebackers coach. Barry interviewed for the Rams’ DC post last year, one Brandon Staley landed, and committed to follow Staley to the Chargers earlier this month.

Also overlapping with LaFleur in 2017, Evero has been on Sean McVay‘s staff throughout his tenure. He has served as Los Angeles’ safeties coach since McVay’s 2017 arrival. This marks his first known opportunity to interview for a defensive coordinator job. Evero leaving L.A. would continue a mass exodus of Rams coaches and staffers. The young assistant has a brief history with the Packers, having served as a quality control staffer with the franchise in 2016.

Harris was up for the Eagles’ DC position, but Nick Sirianni opted to hire ex-Colts coworker Jonathan Gannon for the post. Harris spent last season as Washington’s DBs coach. The former NFL safety spent the previous four seasons with the Chargers, working as their assistant secondary coach.

The Packers ended Pettine’s three-year DC tenure late this week. The former Browns HC declined an extension last year and saw his contract expire. He was a holdover from Mike McCarthy‘s final Green Bay staff. However LaFleur proceeds with Pettine’s replacement, his staff will now include three coordinators he hired.

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Multiple Offers Emerged In Broncos-Lions Matthew Stafford Talks

Matthew Stafford listed the Rams atop his destination list, but Mike Klis of 9News notes the longtime Lions quarterback approved the Broncos as a landing spot. And the teams reached the offer stage in their talks.

While the Lions ended up accepting the Rams’ offer centered around two first-round picks, they had interest in both picks and players from the Broncos. The Lions were interested in sending Stafford to Denver because of the Broncos’ No. 9 overall pick, per Klis, who adds Detroit’s new regime was also interested in some of Denver’s young offensive talents.

It is not known which of the Broncos’ rookie-contract wide receivers appealed to the Lions, but Klis adds Drew Lock surfaced in these talks. Lock is coming off a wildly inconsistent season but is attached to a second-round deal that runs through 2022. The Lions instead took back Jared Goff, which allowed them to collect more in trade compensation from the Rams due to the former No. 1 overall pick’s onerous contract, but only will add a third-round pick to their 2021 draft arsenal.

Multiple proposals emerged in the Denver-Detroit talks, but Klis tweets none of the Broncos’ pitches were on the level of the Rams’ offer. Both the Broncos and Lions have new GMs, in George Paton and Brad Holmes, and the teams would have matched up at wide receiver — where the Broncos have three first- or second-round wideouts and the Lions have Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones on the cusp of free agency. It is unclear if Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton or K.J. Hamler surfaced in these trade talks, but Paton ultimately refused to part with the batch of young talents he is inheriting.

Stafford represented an obvious QB upgrade for the Broncos, who have experienced constant issues at the game’s premier spot since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. With Deshaun Watson not being connected to Denver yet, the prospect of the Broncos fielding a Lock-led QB room again is certainly in play. Prior to John Elway‘s exit, the Broncos were believed to be targeting a veteran to compete with Lock. Paton not being tied to Lock may also point to the Broncos giving stronger consideration to using the No. 9 overall pick on a quarterback.

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Stafford Did Not Want Trade To Patriots?

Although the Lions employ several former Patriots, their centerpiece player is not believed to have wanted to travel the other way in this recently formed pipeline.

Matthew Stafford informed the Lions he did not want to be traded to the Patriots, according to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. Other than a trade to New England, Stafford expressed flexibility about his destination, Curran adds. The Rams agreed to acquire the soon-to-be 33-year-old passer for a major haul Saturday night.

The Patriots were interested in acquiring Stafford, Michael Giardi of NFL.com notes. More than six teams sent the Lions offers for Stafford; it is unclear if any Pats-Lions talks progressed to that point.

While the Patriots are undisputedly this century’s most successful franchise and still employ arguably the greatest coach in NFL history in Bill Belichick, the team is low on intriguing skill-position players. Stafford is believed to have preferred a deal to Los Angeles, which presents usual recruiting advantages for free agents and trade candidates. In addition to those advantages, the Rams have two higher-end wideouts signed long-term and multiple promising young running backs.

New England does hold plenty of cap space, being projected to possess nearly $60MM — and that is if the NFL slots the cap at the previously determined $175MM floor. That could create an opportunity for the Pats, in an offseason when few teams will have considerable space. But they will need to look elsewhere for their quarterback answer, with Stafford bound for L.A.

Rams Made Push For Aaron Rodgers Trade

Prior to prying Matthew Stafford from the Lions for a considerable haul of draft picks, the Rams are believed to have attempted to acquire a higher-profile NFC North quarterback.

The trade-happy franchise “made a run” at landing Aaron Rodgers, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times said during an NFL Network appearance (video link). The Packers, however, insisted they do not plan to trade their future Hall of Fame passer. It is not clear if any offer emerged for Rodgers.

Rodgers’ comments after Green Bay’s NFC championship game loss opened the door to immediate speculation regarding his future, and the decorated quarterback said during the 2020 offseason that finishing his career elsewhere may be the realistic scenario due to the Packers trading up for Jordan Love. Many around the league believe he wants out of Green Bay.

The Rams have not been shy about pulling the trigger on blockbuster trades under GM Les Snead. This one would have ventured to a different level, given Rodgers’ accomplishments and recent level of play. Rodgers is under contract through the 2023 season, though the 37-year-old superstar may now want another new deal.

Stafford will provide Sean McVay with a considerable upgrade in QB talent and will head to Los Angeles for his age-33 season. While Rodgers will turn 38 near the end of next season, he has said he would like to play well into his 40s and showed this past season he remains in elite form. That form was on display in both playoff games, including an efficient divisional-round performance against the Rams. But the Packers, who said earlier this week they were “not idiots” and will be holding onto their franchise quarterback, would be left with only Love as a viable starter on their roster were they to trade Rodgers. It is not clear yet if Love would qualify as such in 2021; he did not take a snap this season.

The Rodgers-Green Bay saga clearly is not over, especially with Love on the roster, but the team was not ready to deal with the Rams — a team that does not hold a 2021 first-round pick.

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Lions Had 6+ Offers For Matthew Stafford

The Lions agreed to trade Matthew Stafford to the Rams over the weekend, but not before mulling more than six offers in total, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (Twitter links). A few of those packages included a 2021 first-rounder. Ultimately, the Lions opted for two future first-round picks, plus Jared Goff‘s outsized contract. 

The Lions’ choice may reflect some level of confidence in Goff, who has struggled mightily since signing a four-year, $134MM extension with the Rams. Meanwhile, the Rams have secured a clear upgrade at the QB position for the here-and-now. Of course, the deal also shows exactly how hard it was for the Rams to unload Goff’s contract. The Rams mortgaged the future even further with this blockbuster, sacrificing their 2022 and 2023 first-rounders, plus a 2021 third-round pick. They’ll also be saddled with $22.2MM in dead money, while saving $12.4MM on his ’21 cap hit.

At one point, it was reported that 10-12 teams had expressed interest in Stafford. The 49ers – with a once-promising and highly-paid QB of their own — were among the rumored suitors, though it’s not clear if they were among the finalists. At the end of the day, the Rams outbid everyone else, landing the soon-to-be 33-year-old and escaping one of the league’s largest commitments all at once. The Lions, now led by ex-Rams exec Brad Holmes, will have ample ammunition as they remake their roster. As for the Rams — they’ll be without their original first-round pick until 2024, at the earliest.

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Giants To Sign Jonotthan Harrison

The Giants have inked signed center Jonotthan Harrison to a one-year futures deal worth $2MM, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Typically, reserve/futures contracts are for the bare minimum, but the Giants were willing to go above and beyond for the talented lineman. 

[RELATED: Giants Sign Breeland Speaks To Futures Deal]

Harrison began his career with the Colts and seemed on track for a promising career as a first-stringer. He started in 19 games for Indy between 2014 and 2015, but seemed to regress as time went on. By 2016, he was a backup who graded out as one of the league’s worst interior linemen, according to Pro Football Focus.

In 2017, then-Jets GM Mike Maccagnan inked him to a one year deal. Harrison went on to start in 19 of 40 games over the next three seasons. Then, just before the start of the 2020 season, Joe Douglas jettisoned him from the roster. After spending 2020 with Buffalo’s practice squad, Harrison will return to the Meadowlands and look to prove himself all over again.

Futures contracts are typically for players on the fringe with less-than-stellar odds of making the final cut. However, the Giants may view Harrison as more of an early free agent pickup. He’ll be joined by fellow NFL notable Breeland Speaksthe 2018 second-round choice inked his own reserve/futures deal earlier this month.

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Rams’ Matthew Stafford To Play On Current Contract

The Rams pulled off a weekend blockbuster, acquiring Matthew Stafford from the Lions in exchange for Jared Goff and a sizable draft haul. And, after escaping Goff’s monster contract, the Rams and Stafford agreed to keep the veteran’s contract as-is (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).

Stafford has two years and $43MM to go on his deal, and that’s how it’ll stay, even though the market has advanced since he last put pen to paper. For the soon-to-be 33-year-old, finding the best possible fit was more important than money, Rapoport hears.

That’s not to say that the Rams are viewing Stafford as a short-term option. Stafford’s coming off of a solid individual season that included nearly 4,100 passing yards with 26 touchdowns versus ten interceptions. Even at his advanced age, it’s clear that he has plenty left in the tank. Also, the Rams will have significantly less draft capital moving forward, even if they do have an inclination to upgrade under center. Rams GM Les Snead shipped away the team’s 2022 and 2023 first-round picks to dump Goff’s deal. In total, that makes seven consecutive first-round picks traded since Goff’s selection in 2016.

Stafford leaves Detroit with the Lions’ franchise records for passing yards and touchdowns. He also leaves town with a losing record in his 165 starts. Now, he has his best chance to win in ages, and he’ll gladly do it with a below-market contract.

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Lions Trade Matthew Stafford To Rams For Jared Goff

The Lions have agreed to trade Matthew Stafford to the Rams, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The deal will send the Lions’ longtime star to L.A. in exchange for fellow QB Jared Goff, plus a slew of draft picks. The exact terms of the trade could evolve in the coming weeks, but here’s what the trade currently looks like: 

Rams receive:

  • QB Matthew Stafford

Lions receive:

  • QB Jared Goff
  • 2021 third-round pick
  • 2022 first-round pick
  • 2023 first-round pick

The deal cannot become official until March 17th, though Stafford will surely be in contact with his new bosses much sooner. Stafford, soon to be 33, had spent all 12 of his NFL seasons in Detroit. When Stafford and the Lions agreed to go their separate ways, the Colts, Patriots, Broncos, and Washington TBDs were quickly connected to him. Ultimately, the Rams pounced on their chance to upgrade at the QB position and unload Goff’s contract in a historic swap of former No. 1 overall picks.

Goff earned Pro Bowl nods in Year 2 and Year 3 of his pro career, including a 2018 campaign where was under center for a Super Bowl appearance. Things have tailed off over the past two years, despite his high-priced extension. In 2019, he threw a career-high 16 interceptions. He followed that up with just 20 passing touchdowns in 2020 — the lowest total since his rookie year, when he started in just seven games.

Stafford, meanwhile, has fallen short of the 20-TD mark just once since 2011. Aside from his injury-filled 2019 campaign with just 19 passing touchdowns, he’s been an absolute rock for the Lions. The Rams are now set to add one of the game’s top quarterbacks to one of the league’s most talented rosters.

The Lions, meanwhile, will try their hand with Goff, who won’t turn 27 until October. Not long removed from his NFC title — or his No. 1 overall selection, for that matter — there’s reason to believe that Goff can get back on track. Even if he can’t, the Lions have tons of draft ammunition to work with in their rebuild.

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Panthers In Mix For Matthew Stafford

Having recently hired former Texans and Lions quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan to the same position, the Panthers have an interesting connection to both of this year’s hot-commodity trade pieces. And the team appears to be considering both passers.

In addition to their Deshaun Watson pursuit, the Panthers are in on the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. They join the Rams and many others, with a previous report indicating as many as 12 teams have discussed Stafford with the new Lions regime, in this group.

Stafford, who will turn 33 next month, would bring appeal due to his lower trade price. But some Panthers staffers believe the former No. 1 overall pick is in decline, Person adds (subscription required). Such stances would make a pursuit interesting, especially given the makeup of Carolina’s roster. While the Lions are expecting a first-round pick in return for Stafford, the Panthers hold the No. 7 overall selection. That would be quite a price to pay for a rebuilding team.

The Panthers would seem to match up better with Watson, who is 25 and signed through the 2025 season. But Stafford would be a clear upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater as well. Two years and $43MM remain on Stafford’s contract, though he could well seek an extension from the team that acquires him.

Ryan coached Stafford over the past two years but was in Houston for Watson’s first two seasons, throwing an interesting variable into the mix. Ryan was on the radar for the Panthers’ OC job last year, but Matt Rhule ended up hiring Joe Brady.

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