Matthew Stafford

Latest On Broncos’ QB Plans

Several teams have already made big splashes under center this offseason, but the Broncos have been mostly quiet. That could change soon.

Denver “isn’t sitting still at the position,” Albert Breer of SI.com writes. Breer lays out details of the Broncos’ pursuits we haven’t heard before, including the previously unreported full offer they made for Matthew Stafford. The Broncos apparently did in fact offer the ninth overall pick to the Lions, but they wanted a second-rounder back in return which quelled those talks.

Breer thinks they’ll add competition for Drew Lock in one form or another, and he mentions the Panthers’ Teddy Bridgewater as a potential option. As he points out, new Broncos GM George Paton was in Minnesota when the Vikings drafted Bridgewater in the first-round. On that note, Breer has some interesting thoughts on the makeup of Denver’s new front office.

The fact that the team isn’t committing to Lock is “a pretty decent sign that John Elway has truly moved into the background,” Breer writes. He also thinks Denver’s lack of real interest in Sam Darnold is a telling sign that Elway isn’t calling the shots, since Elway was infatuated with Darnold coming out of college in 2018.

The team hired Paton to be GM earlier this offseason, with Elway getting elevated to President of Football Operations. At the time there were murmurs about how much power Elway would actually be ceding and how much he would still control the organization, but it sounds like he truly has relinquished the reins.

Snead: Rams Eyeing 5-8 Years With Stafford

Matthew Stafford‘s contract runs through the 2022 season. The Rams managed to navigate the primary free agency period without reducing their new quarterback’s cap number, but they are interested in extending Stafford.

Les Snead provided a timeline for the team’s future with Stafford. Snead envisions the 2009 No. 1 overall pick playing for the Rams well beyond his current contract, which would make sense given the cost to acquire him — multiple future first-rounders and change. The 2021 season will be Stafford’s age-33 campaign.

I don’t think we did it thinking two years,” Snead said of the trade during an appearance on The Athletic’s 11 Personnel podcast (via Rams Wire). “Based on his age, you can legitimately think five to seven, eight years if you look at what Drew (Brees) has done. I don’t know if we’re going to get into Tom Brady, right? Too many things going. But with quarterbacks of his pedigree, a lot of those guys have played into their late 30s, for sure. So that was definitely the vision with Matt.”

The Rams do not have modern experience deploying quarterbacks with Stafford’s experience. Under Snead, the team’s two primary passers — Sam Bradford and Jared Goff — did not last until age 28 with the team. Kurt Warner was out of St. Louis at 32, before his seventh NFL season. Stafford turned 33 earlier this year and has battled injuries in recent years. He missed eight games because of a back malady in 2019 — his first absences since 2011 — and detailed a few issues that bothered him last year. Stafford underwent thumb surgery recently.

Stafford’s recent injuries notwithstanding, the Rams are committed to the 12-year Lions starter. While Goff and Sean McVay‘s relationship progressively deteriorated last year, Snead insists the Rams did not want to jettison the former No. 1 overall pick for the sake of doing so. Stafford being available changed the equation.

To do a move of that magnitude involving quarterbacks, specifically involving Jared, there definitely needed to be a Matthew Stafford on the other end,” Snead said. “We were not going to be stronger by moving Jared for a draft pick, per se. That wasn’t the case, and I think it did take someone of Matt Stafford’s pedigree, ability, experience, all those things, skill set to make that move.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Fitzgerald, Stafford, Everett

When the Cardinals signed A.J. Green last month, all eyes turned to Larry Fitzgerald and his place on the team. Although the legendary receiver hasn’t made his intentions known just yet, it appears he’s headed in the direction of hanging up his cleats. “Execs anticipate” that Fitzgerald, who is unsigned for 2021, is going to retire, Mike Sando of The Athletic writes. This stops short of being a full-on report, but it certainly sounds like that’s the way things are trending.

With Green now in the fold alongside the returning DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, the Cardinals’ receiving room would be pretty crowded if Fitz wanted to give it one last go. The surefire future Hall of Famer played in 13 games for Arizona last year, racking up 54 catches for 409 yards and a touchdown. It was easily the lowest output of his decorated 17-year career. We should know more soon, but unfortunately it seems likely we’ve seen the Pittsburgh product play his final down.

Here’s more from around the NFC West on a quiet Sunday afternoon:

  • Matthew Stafford was banged up a lot during his last season with the Lions, and he just had a procedure to address one of those lingering injuries. The new Rams quarterback had surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand last month, a source told Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Fortunately, Rodrigue reports it was just a simple cleanup and Stafford isn’t expected to miss any real practice time. Stafford said back in February that he had partially torn the UCL in his right thumb. Despite dealing with a slew of significant health issues, he didn’t miss a start last season.
  • The Seahawks signed away tight end Gerald Everett from the Rams in free agency, and it turns out a prior poaching played a large role in that. Seattle hired former Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron to be their new OC after firing Brian Schottenheimer, and Waldron played a role in delivering Everett. “Shane is a mastermind,” Everett said, via John Boyle of the team’s official site. “He’s very creative, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in Seattle… When Shane went to Seattle, obviously the idea was there, it lingered in my head.” Everett was a second-round pick of Los Angeles in 2017, and although he never put up huge numbers in Rams offenses that had a lot of mouths to feed, he flashed a lot of potential. “Yes, he was a factor in my decision to come to Seattle,” Everett said of Waldron. The Seahawks gave him a one-year, $7MM deal in March.
  • In case you missed it, the 49ers are asking for a first-round pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo.

QB Notes: Goff, Rams, Lions, Fields, Hawks

Had John Wolford made it through the Rams‘ wild-card win over the Seahawks healthy, Sean McVay was prepared to start him over Jared Goff against the Packers (assuming the Rams would have won in Round 1 with their backup), Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com notes. Wolford suffered a first-quarter neck injury that brought Goff back into action. McVay decided shortly after the Rams’ Week 17 game that Wolford would start over Goff in Seattle, despite not yet gauging Goff’s progress after thumb surgery. Considering the disparity between Goff and Wolford’s contracts and the nature of their arrivals — the former a No. 1 overall pick and the latter a UDFA who played in the Alliance of American Football — the gap between them narrowing to this degree is striking.

McVay and Goff’s relationship deteriorated over the course of the 2020 season, and the Los Angeles HC openly pondered if the Rams could return to a Super Bowl with Goff at the controls, Thiry adds. While Matthew Stafford will provide the Rams with a considerable upgrade in arm strength, Thiry notes McVay’s issues with Goff did not stem from his arm talent. But Goff’s inconsistency resulted in him dropping from 10th in QBR in 2018 to 22nd in ’19 and 23rd last season. The former No. 1 overall pick will receive a fresh start in Detroit.

Here is the latest from the quarterback world:

  • A month away from the draft, teams are not in agreement on Justin Fields‘ stock, according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt. The Ohio State passer may well be a top-five pick, and Brandt has him ranked seventh in this class. But some teams have placed the two-year Buckeyes starter well below that level, the Hall of Fame scout adds (Twitter links). In Brandt’s view, the 49ers likely did not trade up to No. 3 overall to select Fields. Trey Lance and Mac Jones loom as the other high-end quarterback prospects expected to be available for the 49ers.
  • The 2021 third-round draft choice the Rams are sending the Lions in the Goff-Stafford trade landed at No. 101 overall, according to the NFL transaction wire. The Rams will retain their original third-round pick (88th overall) and also still hold the No. 103 pick, obtained from the league after the Lions hired former Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes as GM.
  • A man has accused Seahawks quarterback Alex McGough of punching him in the face on St. Patrick’s Day, TMZ reports. McGough, 25, allegedly punched Anthony Albino at a bar last week in a dispute related to McGough’s girlfriend. Albino intends to press charges, according to TMZ. The Seahawks drafted McGough in the 2018 seventh round, but he has bounced around the league. Seattle reacquired McGough in December of last year.

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.

AFC South Rumors: Texans, Watt, Colts

Although the breaking point for Deshaun Watson came when the Texans did not keep him in the loop on their hires this offseason, he shared his frustration to coaches and management after last year’s DeAndre Hopkins trade. Then-Texans GM Bill O’Brien assured Watson he would be kept abreast on big-picture decisions going forward, according to Mike Sando, Aaron Reiss and Jason Jenks of The Athletic (subscription required). Watson voicing those concerns following the Hopkins swap also led to the no-trade clause in his Texans extension. However, the quarterback became further disillusioned with the franchise as the regular season progressed. After the Texans’ losses piled up and Cal McNair fired O’Brien, Watson questioned the team’s direction, per The Athletic. Shortly before Watson signed his extension, he said he “loved” the McNairs, the organization and Houston. The Texans have insisted they are not interested in trading Watson, but several teams are interested. And the three-time Pro Bowler has shown no indication he will back down.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Watson’s longtime teammate, J.J. Watt, has been on the market a week. He has been connected to a few teams, including the Titans. After GM Jon Robinson confirmed the team had engaged in discussions with Watt, Mike Vrabel — Watt’s former defensive coordinator in Houston — addressed the possibility of a signing. “You mentioned J.J. Watt, and there will be other veteran players that become available that we’ll have discussions on, and we have had discussions on J.J. Watt,” Vrabel said during a call with season-ticket holders. “… There’s a lot of things that go into bringing in free agents, certainly ones that are past 30 or in the back half of their career.” Vrabel was the Texans’ linebackers coach from 2014-16 and DC in 2017. The Titans signed ex-Vrabel charge Jadeveon Clowney last year, but he is on track for free agency. And Tennessee’s pass rush remains in need of bolstering.
  • Although Matthew Stafford viewed the Colts as a possibility during his time on the trade block, Indianapolis did not offer its first-round pick for the 12-year Detroit starter. Washington and Carolina offered first-rounders and change, while the Rams won out with their monster proposal. The Colts, though, were a bit concerned about the 33-year-old quarterback’s level of play and whether it would end up being worth a big trade package, Stephen Holder of The Athletic notes. Frank Reich‘s history with Carson Wentz undoubtedly played a key role in the Colts taking a gamble on the longtime Eagles starter, and the team ended up retaining its 2021 first- and second-round picks in doing so.
  • The Texans are hiring former Lions character coach Dylan Thompson for a similar role, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. A former UDFA quarterback who moved to an off-field NFL role, Thompson is a friend of embattled Texans executive VP Jack Easterby‘s, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk notes. His relationship with Easterby helped lead to his job in Detroit and previously with the Charleston Southern basketball program.

NFC West Notes: Rams, Jones, 49ers, LeBron

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.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The 49ers are facing a tough situation with Dee Ford, who is battling a back injury that sidelined him for 15 games last season. If the former Pro Bowl pass rusher is not healthy by April 1, his $11.6MM injury guarantee becomes fully guaranteed. With John Lynch indicating recently Ford may not be ready by the 2021 season, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, it appears safe to assume the 49ers will eat that cap charge. This is a somewhat similar situation to Ford’s 2018 offseason, when the Chiefs were forced to pick up Ford’s fifth-year option because he was unable to pass a physical. The 49ers restructured Ford’s contract last year, ballooning his 2021 cap number to $20.1MM — second on the team. The most San Francisco could save with a Ford cut would be $3.7MM, in a post-June 1 transaction.
  • A more proven pass rusher does not have to worry about any release. Asked about an NFL.com list of prospective cap casualties that included Chandler Jones, Cardinals GM Steve Keim rejected the notion that is on the table during an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via the Arizona Republic). Jones is due to count $20.8MM against Arizona’s 2021 cap. The two-time All-Pro is entering the final season of a $16.5MM-per-year deal that has fallen to 13th among edge rushers, pointing to a potential extension that would lower his cap hit.
  • A year prior to the Seahawks‘ run of playoff appearances, they reached out to a notable ex-wide receiver about potentially joining a then-Tarvaris Jackson-quarterbacked team. LeBron James confirmed that, in addition to the Cowboys contacting him about a tryout, the Seahawks did the same during the 2011 NBA lockout. Then in his second year as Seattle’s HC, Pete Carroll shipped James a custom Seahawks jersey along with the workout invite. “I would have tried out, but I would have made the team,” James said, via The Athletic’s Christopher Kamrani and Bill Oram (subscription required). “I don’t mind working for something, so if I would have had to try out for the Cowboys or the Seahawks, or if I’d have stayed home and went back home to Cleveland, I’d have tried (out), but I would have made the team.” Some close to James, 26 during the lockout, convinced him not to go through with NFL workouts. The NBA legend received significant recruiting interest as a wideout at St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron but quit the sport ahead of his senior year.

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.

More Fallout From Matthew Stafford Trade

It’s been a week since the Rams and Lions completed the Matthew Stafford trade, but the fallout from that deal is ongoing. Here’s the latest:

  • We previously heard that the Panthers offered their No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft, plus a later pick, for Stafford. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), that later selection was a fifth-rounder, and Carolina also included Teddy Bridgewater in the proposal, so the Lions would at least have had a veteran signal-caller to take Stafford’s place while they groomed a younger QB. Plus, Detroit would have had the No. 7 and No. 8 overall picks in the draft, so it would have had a terrific chance to land a top collegiate passer and another elite prospect, or at least enough ammo to trade up for a top QB prospect.
  • What’s more, Bridgewater’s contract is much less onerous than that of Jared Goff, who ended up going to the Lions in the swap. But as Peter Schrager of the NFL Network tweets, the Lions didn’t just take on Goff’s contract in order to squeeze more draft picks out of the Rams. They actually wanted Goff and believe he can regain the form he displayed in the 2017-18 seasons, which is a key factor in evaluating Detroit’s return.
  • When negotiations with the Rams commenced, though, the Lions were interested in another high-profile LA player. As Schefter reports in a separate tweet, Detroit first requested DT Aaron Donald, a request that the Rams summarily dismissed. Donald just landed his third Defensive Player of the Year award, and he obviously would have gone a long way towards the Lions’ much-needed defensive rebuild.
  • Stafford’s presence is attracting free agents to the Rams, as Schefter writes. Already, players have reached out to Stafford to express their interest in teaming up with him in Los Angeles, and Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones — who is eligible for free agency — is one such player. However, the Rams are projected to be well over the new salary cap of $180.5MM, so it’s unclear how active they will be in the free agent market.