Matthew Stafford

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.

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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.

Panthers Offered 8th Pick For Matthew Stafford, Details On Other Offers

As the fallout continues to pour in from the blockbuster Matthew Stafford/Jared Goff trade, we’ve got some new details on the talks the Lions had leading up to it. Most notably, the Panthers had offered the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft as well as a later pick, Albert Breer of SI.com reports. Many would argue that’s a better offer than what Detroit took from the Rams, two future first-round picks (which could be late ones), a third-rounder, and Goff’s bloated contract. 

Taking that deal would’ve given the Lions the seventh and eighth picks this April, giving them a ton of ammo if they wanted to move up for one of the top couple of quarterbacks. Clearly, they didn’t view Goff and his contract as a huge negative like many others do, and this offer from Matt Rhule will likely be the one looked back on most when we reflect on this trade in the years to come. If nothing else this just goes to show how serious Carolina is about upgrading from Teddy Bridgewater, and we’ve heard they’re gearing up for an aggressive run at Deshaun Watson.

Washington offered the 19th pick this April as well as a third-round selection, Breer writes. The Colts discussed packages of picks but never made an offer that included their first-rounder this year, the 21st pick. Although the 49ers did show some interest, they never made a formal offer, which tracks with them being content to run it back with Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Broncos also showed interest but Breer says it became clear early on the price was rising well beyond what new GM George Paton was willing to pay. The Patriots were willing to package a second-rounder with a defensive player although obviously that wasn’t going to cut it and Stafford apparently had no interest in going to New England and reuniting with Matt Patricia anyway.

Interestingly, Breer notes that the Jets checked in over the weekend. All those other teams had been heavily linked to Stafford, but New York would’ve been something of a wild card. Obviously the talks went nowhere, but it’s notable to learn the Jets are at least considering rolling with a veteran passer instead of Sam Darnold or a rookie with their second overall pick.

So, what do you think? Are the Lions foolish for not taking the eighth pick and running with it, or will Goff prove some people wrong?

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.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.