Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is 35 years old, has a Super Bowl ring, and has earned over $320MM from his playing career. He is also in the midst of his second consecutive subpar season and is currently dealing with a UCL sprain after having suffered through elbow troubles and a spinal contusion in 2022. Add it all up, and it stands to reason that there would be some retirement speculation surrounding the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, just as there was around this time last year.
Stafford, however, is having none of it. On a recent episode of The Pat McAfee Show, the Georgia product made it clear that he is still not contemplating retirement (video link).
“I love playing this game, I love competing,” Stafford said (h/t Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk). “I love being in the locker room. I’ll never get that again, so I get as many opportunities to do that as I can. I love this team, I love the city, it’s been a blast. Obviously had a lot of success in our first year and trying to duplicate that this year, next year, whenever it is. I enjoy playing too much to hang it up.”
Stafford did concede, when asked if he plans to keep playing “until the wheels fall off,” that his wheels are “wobbling a little bit right now as we speak,” and that he will likely not play “until the wheels completely fall off.” Nonetheless, it seems certain that he will return in 2024.
From a purely financial perspective, there is no reason for Stafford not to suit up next season. On the third day of the 2023 league year in March, the Rams picked up the veteran passer’s 2023 option bonus and his 2024 salary, and he is therefore due a fully-guaranteed $31MM next season. Los Angeles may or may not have attempted to trade Stafford prior to incurring those costs, but after a mediocre and injury-marred 2022, it was never likely that another team would subject itself to the same financial burden by acquiring Stafford. And unless Stafford dramatically improves on his 2023 performance to date — in eight games this season, he has completed less than 60% of his passes for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions — GM Les Snead should not expect to receive any trade inquiries when the 2024 league year begins.
As such, the Rams and Stafford appear to be heading for at least one more year together (he is under club control through 2026). But since Stafford’s 2024 cap hit checks in at a whopping $49.5MM, Snead may at least approach his signal-caller about some sort of restructure, or even a pay cut.
In related news, the Rams did reach out to newly-acquired QB2 Carson Wentz earlier this season, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes in a subscribers-only piece. However, Los Angeles did not circle back to Wentz until after the since-waived Brett Rypien disappointed in the club’s Week 9 loss to the Packers on Sunday, and Fowler reports that the Rams’ contract offer represented the first “tangible opportunity” Wentz received since he was released by Washington in February. Wentz may therefore be in for another lengthy stay on the free agent market in 2024, though it is conceivable that he impresses the Rams’ staff enough to return as Stafford’s backup next season.