Rams Rumors

Rams Eyeing Matthew Stafford Extension Or Restructure

The Rams traded two first-round picks and change to acquire Matthew Stafford, so it would stand to reason they are planning to commit to the former Lions starter long-term. But after the trade, a new contract was not viewed as an immediate priority.

Stafford’s 2017 extension runs through the 2022 season; $43MM remains on the deal. However, the Rams are more than $30MM over the low-end salary cap projection ($180MM) and could benefit by a Stafford extension lowering his 2021 cap hit. The team plans to address Stafford’s contract, be it through an extension or restructure, according to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue (subscription required).

At the time of signing, Stafford’s $27MM-per-year deal raised the then-stagnant QB market by $2MM. That began a hotbed of activity, which included the Rams’ ill-fated $33.5MM-per-year deal for Jared Goff, and Deshaun Watson‘s $39MM-AAV pact now tops the market (for conventional, non-Patrick Mahomes QB contracts). Given the price the Rams paid, Stafford would have some leverage in extension talks — should he choose to exercise it.

The 33-year-old passer is only set to count $20MM against the Rams’ 2021 cap, though a base-to-signing bonus restructure could lower that in a non-extension scenario. The Lions already restructured Stafford’s contract, adding a void year. A Stafford extension would align with that of his new receivers — Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, whose 2020 extensions run through 2025 and 2023, respectively — and defensive cornerstones Aaron Donald (through 2024) and Jalen Ramsey (through ’25). Putting Stafford on the same timeline has factored into his equation, per Rodrigue.

It seems the Rams will be approaching their new quarterback soon, and other restructures should be on tap considering the team’s current cap situation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams 2021 Staff Notes

We heard last month that new Chargers coach Brandon Staley was interested in bringing OC Kevin O’Connell with him from the Rams, but that Sean McVay had blocked the lateral move. McVay confirmed that news when speaking to the media earlier this week, and indicated that he’s putting more on O’Connell’s plate to keep him happy. McVay said his top offensive deputy will have more responsibility this upcoming season, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets.

The Rams head coach stressed how important it was for the team to retain O’Connell in the face of the Chargers’ advances. It doesn’t sound like he has any intention of giving up play-calling duties anytime soon, but at least O’Connell will be more involved in the operation. McVay let his old OC Matt LaFleur leave to go to the Titans for a lateral move since it came with play-calling responsibilities, but he wasn’t as keen to see O’Connell walk out the door. O’Connell, still only 35, was Washington’s OC in 2019 before getting bounced with the rest of Jay Gruden’s staff and then getting picked up by McVay.

  • O’Connell isn’t the only one getting additional responsibilities on the Rams staff. Running backs coach Thomas Brown has now been given the title of assistant head coach, tight ends coach Wes Phillips has been named passing game coordinator, and defensive line coach Eric Henderson has been promoted to run game coordinator, the team announced. Knowing the history of McVay’s staffs, each of these guys will probably be head coaches by 2022. All jokes aside, Phillips is the son of former Cowboys head coach and Rams DC Wade Phillips, so it’s interesting to see him rising up through the ranks if nothing else.

Rams “Definitely” Value Austin Blythe

In a few weeks, Austin Blythe will be eligible for free agency. Ideally, Rams head coach Sean McVay would like to prevent that from happening. 

[RELATED: Rams’ Matthew Stafford On Lions Exit]

He did a great job and he’s definitely somebody that we appreciate, we value,” McVay said (via USA Today). “I think there’s going to be a lot of things that we’ve got to really navigate through as we’re trying to figure out the best way to put our team together as we figure out what is that cap? What does it look like specific to some of the things that we’re in the midst of trying to figure out? You even talk about restructuring, some of the guys that have some of those bigger deals and where we can find some of that money.”

Blythe raised his stock in 2019 as he took over for Brian Allen. The Rams re-upped him on one-year deal and he performed as a solid starter throughout the year. Centers like Corey Linsley may draw more attention on the open market, but there would be plenty of suitors for Blythe. Last year, he earned a score of 69.3 from Pro Football Focus, positioning him as the ninth-best center in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Jaguars Extend Blake Bortles

Three years ago today, the Jaguars took themselves out of the quarterback market by sticking with Blake Bortles. The move was widely panned and, ultimately, it did not work out for Jacksonville. 

The Jaguars were fresh off of an AFC Championship Game appearance and their first playoff appearance in nine years. Bortles, meanwhile, tossed a career-low 13 interceptions. Still, his overall body of work did not inspire a ton of confidence – his 60.2% completion percentage actually marked a new career best.

Despite the question marks, Bortles became the first 2014 first-round pick to receive an extension – stars like Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack were still negotiating for their new deals (Of course, they all eventually secured the bag.)

Reported to be a three-year, $54MM pact, the deal included $26.5MM guaranteed with the potential to reach $66.5MM in total through bonuses. He did not earn those incentives, nor did he get to play out his deal – Bortles was cut loose in 2019, clearing the way for Nick Foles to take over.

Bortles went 3-9 in 12 starts for the Jaguars as head coach Doug Marrone flip-flopped him with Cody Kessler. During his five-year run with the Jaguars, Bortles led the league with 75 interceptions – more than one INT per start.

With his stock at an all-time low, the former No. 3 overall pick hooked on with the Rams in the 2019 offseason. Playing behind Jared Goff, Bortles appeared in only three games and attempted two passes. Without a real opportunity to play in 2019, Bortles did not get a chance to silence his critics. Last year, he found his way to Denver, where he was penalized for breaking the league’s COVID safety protocols. Now, on the verge of his 29th birthday in April, Bortles is a free agent once again. And, much like last year, the former No. 3 overall pick is on the NFL fringes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Hire New O-Line Coach

  • The Rams parted ways with highly regarded offensive line coach and run game coordinator Aaron Kromer a few days ago, and they aren’t wasting any time replacing him. Los Angeles will hire Kevin Carberry to be their new O-line coach, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). The speed with which Sean McVay made this move would seem to indicate it had been in the works for a while. Carberry was the run game coordinator at Stanford before taking this gig. As Pelissero points out, Carberry was on staff in Washington with McVay. He was Washington’s assistant O-line coach under OC McVay in 2016.

Stafford Pitching Marvin Jones On Rams

Marvin Jones exited his ninth NFL season without a playoff win, and the former Bengals and Lions wideout is looking for a championship contender to become his third team. His most recent quarterback is already pitching him on a trip to Los Angeles. Matthew Stafford called Jones about teaming up with the Rams, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The soon-to-be 31-year-old receiver, however, is believed to have interest in joining the Dolphins and Jaguars. Jones played out a five-year contract with the Lions, with Stafford being his primary QB. The Rams are not exactly in position to be chasing higher-end free agents, being more than $30MM over the cap as of Friday. And the team has Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp signed long-term, with Van Jefferson under team control through 2023. But the Stafford move shows the Rams are making a big push. Through that lens, Jones would make sense as an auxiliary option.

Browns Lead NFL In Salary Cap Carryover

Earlier today, the NFL Players Association announced (via Twitter) the salary cap carryover amounts for all 32 NFL teams for the 2021 season. Effectively, teams are able to rollover their unused cap from the previous season. So, when the 2021 salary cap numbers become official, they can be added to each team’s carryover amount to determine that individual club’s official cap for 2021.

This follows news from earlier today that the NFL has raised its salary cap floor to $180MM for 2021. This total could clue us in to the salary cap maximum, which could end up landing north of $190MM. The salary cap was $198.2MM for the 2020 campaign.

As the NFLPA detailed, the league will rollover $315.1MM from the 2020 season, an average of $9.8MM per team. The Browns lead the league with a whopping $30.4MM, and they’re the only team in the top-five to make the playoffs. The NFC East ($68.8MM) and AFC East ($65.3MM) are the two divisions will the largest carryover amounts.

The full list is below:

  • Cleveland Browns: $30.4MM
  • New York Jets: $26.7MM
  • Dallas Cowboys: $25.4MM
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: $23.5MM
  • Philadelphia Eagles: $22.8MM
  • New England Patriots: $19.6MM
  • Denver Broncos: $17.8MM
  • Washington Football Team: $15.8MM
  • Miami Dolphins: $15.2MM
  • Detroit Lions: $12.8MM
  • Cincinnati Bengals: $10.8MM
  • Houston Texans: $9.2MM
  • Indianapolis Colts: $8.3MM
  • Los Angeles Chargers: $8.1MM
  • Chicago Bears: $7MM
  • Los Angeles Rams: $5.7MM
  • Kansas City Chiefs: $5.1MM
  • Arizona Cardinals: $5MM
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: $5MM
  • New York Giants: $4.8MM
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $4.6MM
  • Minnesota Vikings: $4.5MM
  • Carolina Panthers: $4.3MM
  • New Orleans Saints: $4.1MM
  • Buffalo Bills: $3.8MM
  • Green Bay Packers: $3.7MM
  • Las Vegas Raiders: $3.6MM
  • Tennessee Titans: $2.3MM
  • San Francisco 49ers: $1.9MM
  • Atlanta Falcons: $1.8MM
  • Seattle Seahawks: $956K
  • Baltimore Ravens: $587K

Rams, Aaron Kromer To Part Ways

The Rams have lost numerous coaches from their 2020 staff, with Brandon Staley‘s departure being the most notable change for Sean McVay‘s squad. They will soon lose another staffer.

Run-game coordinator and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and the Rams agreed to mutually part ways, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). Kromer has been with the Rams since McVay’s 2017 arrival.

It is not believed this separation relates to Kromer seeking a position elsewhere, Rodrigue adds, noting that Kromer’s son, Zak Kromer, is expected to stay on as a quality control staffer. But this will mark a change during an offseason that has featured many in Los Angeles.

McVay’s staff already lost Staley, passing-game coordinator Shane Waldron, cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant and linebackers coach Joe Barry. The Rams also lost college scouting director Brad Holmes and pro scouting director Ray Agnew. They are now atop the Lions’ front office hierarchy. Waldron’s departure to become the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator also meant the exit of Rams assistant O-line coach Andy Dickerson, who is following Waldron to Seattle. McVay will soon be assembling a new O-line staff.

Kromer has been an NFL assistant since 2001 and an O-line coach since 2002, when he broke into that role for the ’02 AFC champion Raiders. He rose to the role of Saints interim head coach during Sean Payton‘s 2012 suspension and worked as the Bears’ offensive coordinator under Marc Trestman from 2013-14.

Pro Football Focus ranked the Rams’ offensive line third last season, with the team bouncing back after a down O-line season in 2019. PFF slotted the Rams’ O-line sixth in 2017 and ’18.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matthew Stafford: There Were Teams I Didn’t Want To Play For

A few days ago we heard Matthew Stafford dish on his trade process, including about how he knew a move was possible prior to the 2020 season, and offer insights into a few of the potential destinations before the Rams eventually stepped up. Now Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required) has published the second part of their interview, and there are more interesting nuggets to pore over.

There was a report that Stafford didn’t want to go to the Patriots, perhaps due to the presence of Matt Patricia. Albom asked him about that and while he didn’t specifically name New England, he did admit that there were certain teams he didn’t want to play for.

Well, what’s accurate is — and this is an incredible thing by them — I asked to go to a team that was ready to win a championship. And, you know, there were a few teams on that list. There were a few teams that were not on that list. And they were respectful of that and understood completely. I had thoughts and reasons for each one of them,” Stafford said while raving about how the Lions handled the situation.

It sounds like he saw New England struggle to field a competitive team in 2020, and wanted no part of it. Stafford also acknowledged that the Rams would’ve been his top choice all along, which was rumored to be the case. He did try to tamp down the speculation by speaking highly of Patricia.

He and I had a good relationship, no matter what anybody wants to say. I could go into his office and talk to him, he could get me on the phone whenever he needed to. I think we both grew in that relationship. I have a lot of respect for him and who he is, as a football coach and an unbelievable mind,” Stafford said of his former coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matthew Stafford Addresses Lions Exit, Trade Options, Injuries

A week after Matthew Stafford‘s January trade request surfaced, the Rams made a deal to acquire him for Jared Goff and three draft picks. But a Detroit departure was on the 12-year veteran’s mind ahead of the 2020 season as well.

Rumors circulated about a Stafford trade last year, when he was coming off an injury-abbreviated 2019 season, but those quickly fizzled. Stafford played 16 Lions games last season, but the team’s 5-11 record led to a regime change and the official trade request. Now set for a rebuild, the Lions hired ex-Rams exec Brad Holmes as GM and Dan Campbell as head coach.

To be honest, Kelly and I probably started talking about it before last season,” Stafford said of he and his wife’s discussions about a possible Detroit exit (via Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press). “It was one of those things where, you know, we were hoping that, golly, let’s go, I hope this thing takes off and we play great. But if it doesn’t, you just knew what was going to happen. They were going to tear it down and rebuild.

And anytime you switch GMs and a head coach, you know that they’re going to want to bring their own people in, and that’s going to take time. And I, frankly, didn’t feel like I was the appropriate person to oversee that time.”

Stafford, who turned 33 last week, generated trade inquiries or offers from nearly half the league. The Panthers offered their first-round pick (No. 8 overall) and Teddy Bridgewater for him; Washington offered its No. 19 overall choice and more as well. The Broncos’ offer did not come in on that level, but they joined the Colts, 49ers, Bears and Patriots as other suitors. Stafford was believed to be against a New England trade.

I thought all the places that everybody else thought. Indianapolis. San Francisco — although you didn’t know what was gonna happen with Jimmy (Garoppolo),” Stafford said. “Washington, but we obviously didn’t know what was gonna happen there. I just didn’t know how (the Rams) would ever be able to (execute a trade). I’m not a salary cap guru. It kind of got to a point where I’m like, OK, I can’t sit there and go crazy. I just tried to let it happen, and L.A. aggressively jumped into it.”

Between 2013-18, the Lions won between six and nine games in five seasons. Stafford will head to a Rams team that has made three of the past four playoff brackets, after missing the previous 12.

I’ve always wanted to play in those big games; I feel like I will excel in those situations. I wanted to shoot my shot,” Stafford said, via Albom. “… In my mind, I felt like I was going to be able to help us go win six, seven, eight games, because I wasn’t gonna let us lose more than that, you know? But I probably wasn’t good enough (by myself) to help us win more than thatAnd maybe we don’t ever get those top picks that we needed.

Although the Rams are set to upgrade at quarterback, they will acquire a player coming off some recent injuries. Back trouble caused Stafford to miss eight games in 2019, and he said he suffered a torn UCL in his left elbow during Detroit’s Thanksgiving game. Stafford also told Albom he suffered a partial UCL tear in his right thumb and a broken rib and encountered multiple leg issues this past season. The former No. 1 overall pick, however, has only missed eight games in the past 10 years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.