Jared Goff

Lions Notes: Williams, Goff, Smith, Vaitai

The Lions have dealt with a number of injuries on offense, including a notable one suffered even before the draft. Rookie wideout Jameson Williams has yet to play this year, as he continues to recover from the torn ACL he suffered in the CFP title game.

midseason return was once the team’s target, but plans have changed with respect to his timeframe. Head coach Dan Campbell echoed confidence that the Alabama product will see the field in 2022, but that will not come any time soon.

“There’s still hope,” Campbell said, via Justin Rodgers of the Detroit News“There again, he’s put together a pretty good month, a real good month. So we feel like we’re going to have him before this season’s out. It’s hard to say when that’s going to be. I would say at least probably another month. But I do feel like we’re going to get him before this is said and done.”

The Lions currently have DJ Chark on IR, but Campbell insisted that a lack of depth at the position will not play a role in the team’s handling of the highly-touted Williams with respect to his return. Here are some other notes from the Motor City:

  • 2022 was widely considered the year in which the Lions decided whether or not Jared Goff could be a long-term solution at the quarterback position. To date, the 28-year-old has committed nine turnovers (six interceptions and three fumbles) this season, giving him a total of 23 in 20 games in Detroit. Not surprisingly, then, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes that no one in the organization “truly believes Goff is the quarterback of the future” (subscription required). The Lions are one of only two teams in the league with a one-win record (1-5), so they are on track to have a top choice in next April’s draft. That will give them a prime opportunity to find a franchise signal-caller amongst this year’s celebrated class of prospects; in doing so, they could move on from Goff, who has no guaranteed money remaining on his deal after this year.
  • Saivion Smith suffered a neck injury during the team’s lopsided loss to the Patriots in Week 5. As a result, the former UDFA will undergo neck fusion surgery next month, Birkett tweets. Smith, 24, confirmed that he did not suffer a concussion on the play, but is still facing a lengthy recovery after the procedure. His absence will be felt in Detroit’s much-maligned secondary.
  • Halapoulivaati Vaitai is, of course, dealing with injury troubles of his own. The starting o-lineman continues to recover from back surgery, and is unlikely to see the field in 2022. The degree to which he is able to return to previous health and form could go a long way in determining his financial future, since, like Goff, no guaranteed compensation remains on the final two years of his contract. The 29-year-old agreed to a move affecting the books in 2022, though; ESPN’s Field Yates reports that the Lions have restructured Vaitai’s deal, creating roughly $2.4MM in cap space (Twitter link). In advance of Tuesday’s trade deadline, Detroit has just over $3MM in available funds, though their placement at the bottom of the NFC certainly points to the team being sellers, rather than buyers, on the market.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Offense

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the second reduction in NFL salary cap history last year, the 2022 cap made a record jump. This year’s salary ceiling ($208.2MM) checks in $25.7MM north of the 2021 figure.

While quarterbacks’ salaries will continue to lead the way, a handful of blockers and skill-position players carry sizable cap numbers for 2022. A few of the quarterbacks that lead the way this year may not be tied to those numbers once the regular season begins. The 49ers, Browns and Ravens have made efforts to alter these figures via trades or extensions.

Here are the top 2022 salary cap hits on the offensive side of the ball:

  1. Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): $38.6MM
  2. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs): $35.79MM
  3. Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): $31.42MM
  4. Jared Goff, QB (Lions): $31.15MM
  5. Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): $28.53MM
  6. Carson Wentz, QB (Commanders): $28.29MM
  7. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers): $26.95MM
  8. Russell Wilson, QB (Broncos): $24MM
  9. Lamar Jackson, QB (Ravens): $23.02MM
  10. Kenny Golladay, WR (Giants): $21.2MM
  11. Garett Bolles, T (Broncos): $21MM
  12. Dak Prescott, QB (Cowboys): $19.73MM
  13. Derek Carr, QB (Raiders): $19.38MM
  14. D.J. Humphries, T (Cardinals): $19.33MM
  15. Keenan Allen, WR (Chargers): $19.2MM
  16. Taylor Decker, T (Lions): $18.9MM
  17. Sam Darnold, QB (Panthers): 18.89MM
  18. Baker Mayfield, QB (Browns): $18.89MM
  19. Matt Ryan, QB (Colts): $18.7MM
  20. Ronnie Stanley, T (Ravens): $18.55MM
  21. Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): $18.4MM
  22. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (Cowboys): $18.22MM
  23. DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals): $17.95MM
  24. Cooper Kupp, WR (Rams): $17.8MM
  25. Laremy Tunsil, T (Texans): $17.71MM
  • The Chiefs’ cap sheet looks a bit different this year, with Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu off the roster. But Mahomes’ cap number rockets from $7.4MM in 2021 to the league’s second-largest figure in 2022. This marks the first time Mahomes’ 10-year contract is set to count more than $10MM toward Kansas City’s cap, with the AFC West champs not yet restructuring the deal this year.
  • Tied to a few lucrative extensions since relocating to Minnesota, Cousins’ third Vikings deal dropped his cap number from $45MM. The fifth-year Vikings QB’s cap number is set to climb past $36MM in 2023.
  • Prior to negotiating his landmark extension in March, Rodgers was set to count more than $46MM on the Packers’ payroll.
  • The 49ers are aiming to move Garoppolo’s nonguaranteed money off their payroll. That figure becomes guaranteed in Week 1, providing a key date for the franchise. San Francisco is prepared to let Garoppolo negotiate contract adjustments with other teams to facilitate a trade.
  • Wilson counts $26MM on the Seahawks’ 2022 payroll, due to the dead money the NFC West franchise incurred by trading its 10-year starter in March.
  • Jackson, Darnold and Mayfield are attached to fifth-year option salaries. Jackson’s is higher due to the former MVP having made two Pro Bowls compared to his 2018 first-round peers’ zero. The 2020 CBA separated fifth-year option values by playing time and accomplishments. The Browns and Panthers have engaged in off-and-on negotiations on divvying up Mayfield’s salary for months, while a Jackson extension remains on the radar.
  • Golladay’s cap number jumped from $4.47MM last year to the highest non-quarterback figure among offensive players. The Giants wideout’s four-year deal calls for $21MM-plus cap hits from 2023-24.
  • Prior to being traded to the Colts, who adjusted their new starter’s contract, Ryan was set to carry an NFL-record $48MM cap hit this year. The Falcons are carrying a league-record $40.5MM dead-money charge after dealing their 14-year starter.
  • The Texans restructured Tunsil’s deal in March, dropping his 2022 cap hit from $26.6MM to its present figure. Because of the adjustment, Tunsil’s 2023 cap number resides at $35.2MM

Contract information courtesy of Over The Cap 

Rams HC Sean McVay Has Regrets Over Handling Of Jared Goff Trade

It’s been a bit more than a year since Jared Goff was sent packing to Detroit. Things worked out well for the Rams; trade acquisition Matthew Stafford helped guide the organization to a Super Bowl championship. The front office obviously has no regrets with how things turned out, but Sean McVay recently admitted that he’d like a re-do when it comes to how he handled the trade with his former starting QB.

During an appearance on Mike Silver’s Open Mike podcast, McVay said he could have done a better job of communicating the team’s intentions at quarterback to Goff.

“That was a hard thing for me because the thing that’s more important than anything is being a good communicator — clear, open, and honest. Making sure people aren’t caught off guard and really having respect for the players and the coaches for what they have to do. And I wish that there had been better in-person communication,” McVay said (h/t to Myles Simmons of ProFootballTalk.com). “The one thing that hurt me is that I would never want anything to be misunderstood about my appreciation, my respect for Jared. Was it a tough decision? Yes. Were there some things that I could’ve handled better in terms of the clarity provided for him? No doubt.

“If I had it over again, what I would do is, before I had even gone to Cabo, when there was a possibility of, alright, if Matthew Stafford’s available, if there’s other quarterbacks available, that would be something that we would explore — you sit down with him, you look him in the eye, you tell him that instead of calling him and setting up a meeting where that was my intention when I got back from Cabo.”

At one time, it would have been crazy to suggest that the Rams would move on from Goff. The 2016 first-overall pick earned Pro Bowl nods in both 2017 and 2018, and he made it to the Super Bowl during that latter season. Following that Super Bowl loss, the Rams signed Goff to a four-year, $134MM extension, with the $100MM in guaranteed money setting a then-record. Indeed, it seemed like the Rams and McVay were fully committed to their starting QB.

However, after averaging 12 wins between the 2017 and 2018 campaigns, the Rams averaged only 9.5 victories in 2019 and 2020. The Rams started considering changes, and with Stafford available in Detroit, the organization decided to make a move. According to McVay, the trade negotiations came together quicker than anticipated; what the Rams “thought was going to be a week’s worth of time ended up happening in about 24 to 36 hours.” As a result, the organization didn’t have an opportunity to truly prep Goff for the impending move.

“So all in all, biggest thing I regret, [not] being able to sit down, look him in the eye and be able to communicate kind of where we are, what we were going to try to do moving forward,” McVay said. “And for that, I regret it, I’ll not make those same mistakes again.

“But, I care about Jared. He sure as hell did a lot of good things. And I think the thing that shows what a stud, what a class act he really is, is one of the best text messages I got after the Super Bowl was from Jared Goff. And so, I think the further we get away, the more appreciation that we’ll have for the great four years that we did have together — because there were a lot of really good times. … But all in all, just the better communication, better clarity is what I would’ve wanted. And I didn’t like the outside narrative, but I think he knows where my heart was. And I was glad we were able to connect, sit down, be honest with each other, and I think we both have a lot of respect for each other. And I wish I’d handled it better as a leader for him.”

Lions Bullish On Jared Goff, Open To Drafting Quarterback

The Lions do not appear to have a long-term quarterback solution on their roster, but they were not connected to any of the passers who switched teams via trade last month. This positions Jared Goff to go into a second season as Detroit’s starter.

This scenario seems fine for Lions GM Brad Holmes, who was with the Rams when Goff was drafted and pulled the trigger on a trade to acquire Goff’s contract — something that netted Detroit more draft capital in the Matthew Stafford swap. Goff’s deal does not make him a realistic cut or trade candidate this year, but the former No. 1 overall pick can be jettisoned much easier in 2023.

As veterans like Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo have shrinking markets, Goff is set to move into another season unchallenged for a starting job. Although the team can save $20MM by moving on from Goff next year, Holmes said this week the seventh-year veteran can still be Detroit’s long-term QB answer.

Jared played good football for us late in the year, so we have a lot of optimism about Jared going forward. We have a quarterback,” Holmes said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “If you’re asking, like, why did not we not kind of hop into that world [of offseason QB movement], we’re happy with where Jared’s at right now. We’re looking forward to him having a productive year for us.

… Jared’s our quarterback and we’re going to make sure that he’s put in the best position to succeed and that’s — we’ll let the chips fall from there.”

The Lions started 0-10-1 under Goff, who was transported from Sean McVay‘s offense that came equipped with quality wide receivers to a newly assembled coaching staff with one of the worst wideout depth charts in the league. Goff ranked 24th in QBR last season, when he averaged 6.6 yards per attempt but did finish with a 19-to-8 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio. The Lions, who moved on from OC Anthony Lynn earlier this year, re-signed Tim Boyle as a backup in March.

Another Goff-Boyle season could well transpire in Detroit, but select NFL personnel view Goff, understandably, as a placeholder for the Lions, Birkett notes. They are set to carry two first-round picks this year and next. This year’s moderately appealing crop of quarterbacks does not seem to align with the Lions’ No. 2 overall draft slot, though Holmes discussed the topic of a rookie learning behind Goff. If the Lions opt not to reach for one of this year’s top QB prospects at 2, they could conceivably be in play for Matt Corral or Desmond Ridder at 32 or 34.

Sure, I could see some advantage of there is a young quarterback that can learn under Jared,” Holmes said. “I don’t think Jared would have any issues taking on that role. He’s had younger guys with less experience behind him, so he’d be very comfortable with that.”

It would be interesting if the Lions made their quarterback move now instead of 2023. The team is not expected to contend this season, and the 2023 QB class is — a year out — viewed as superior to this one. Holmes has also discussed Detroit’s No. 2 pick with teams and is open to dealing it before the draft. The Lions floating a scenario where they could be in play for a QB may factor into that approach as well.

Lions’ Goff Doubtful For Game Against Seahawks

Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell told reporters yesterday that quarterback Jared Goff is doubtful to play this Sunday in Seattle. A lingering knee injury is looking more and more likely to hold Goff out of his second straight game.

It looks like Campbell is going to be cautious in handling Goff’s return to avoid further harm to the quarterback. With the end of the season approaching, and the Lions long disqualified from postseason contention, we may have already seen Goff’s season finale in Detroit’s Week 15 upset of the Cardinals.

In his first season with the Lions, Goff was able to reproduce much of the statistical output from his lesser years in LA, but without the team success. Goff has averaged 231.3 passing yards per game, slightly under his 2017 season average of 253.6 yards per game. He threw 17 touchdowns to 8 interceptions, displaying the same discipline and accuracy he showed as a Ram. It seems the drastic drop of talent around him made for a difficult transition for the sixth-year veteran in terms of winning football games.

In his absence, Tim Boyle is expected to make his second-straight start and his third start of the 2021 NFL season. In his previous two starts, Boyle was able to keep the Lions largely competitive in a three-point loss to the Browns and a four-point loss to the Falcons. Boyle has relied on short and easy completions to move the offense. He’s completed an impressive 39 of 57 pass attempts (68%), but has only totaled 264 passing yards in two games. He’s also struggled to keep possession, throwing 3 picks to only 1 touchdown.

Boyle is expected to face off against a Seahawks’ defense that ranks last in the NFC in passing yards allowed, so it appears something has to bend. Either Seattle will provide a stout passing defensive performance uncharacteristic of this year or Boyle will have a career day for his statistical production.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/20/21

A long list of players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. We listed the players who landed on the list today, as well as those who were activated off the list:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: DE John Franklin-Myers, DB Sharrod Neasman

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Lions QB Jared Goff Lands On Reserve/COVID-19 List

After a shocking win over the Cardinals yesterday, the Lions will be looking to carry that momentum into next weekend’s game against the Falcons. Unfortunately, Detroit might have to go for their second-straight win without their starting QB. The Lions announced today that they’ve placed quarterback Jared Goff on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

While things certainly haven’t gone right in Detroit this season, the team’s struggles aren’t entirely Goff’s fault. The 27-year-old has completed 67 percent of his passes this year for 3,007 yards, 17 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He’s also been victim to a career-high 34 sacks for the 2-11-1 Lions.

Goff was forced to miss Week 11 against the Browns, and backup Tim Boyle ended up throwing for only 77 yards and two interceptions in the loss. If Goff isn’t able to play this weekend, there’s a chance Boyle gets another start for Detroit.

The Lions made a handful of additional moves today. Besides Goff, offensive tackle Matt Nelson was also placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, while cornerback Mark Gilbert and running back Jamaal Williams were activated from the list. The team placed linebacker Alex Anzalone on IR, and they signed running back Craig Reynolds to the active roster following a breakout game yesterday.

NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Darnold, Cowboys

Imagine a loaded Buccaneers offense with…Jonathan Taylor at running back. It could have been a possibility, as the Buccaneers had their eye on the Wisconsin product during the 2020 draft, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Bucs were armed with the No. 14 heading into that draft, and Taylor was on the “short list” of players the organization was considering with that selection. The team ended up with their preferred prospect, offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, and they traded up to No. 13 to make sure they got the lineman. However, if Wirfs was off the board at that point in the draft, then Tampa Bay likely would have pivoted to Taylor, who didn’t hear his name come off the board until midway through the second round.

“I loved him,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said recently (via Schefter). “He could do it all, and it was just a matter of time — playing behind that offensive line — that he was going to be the force that he is.”

Taylor has obviously had a standout season with the Colts, leading the league with 1,348 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns (naturally, he’s also leading the NFL with 1,684 yards from scrimmage and 18 total scores). Of course, things have worked out fine for the Buccaneers. Wirfs has started all 28 of his career games, while the duo of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones were more than capable during Tampa Bay’s 2020 Super Bowl run.

Some more notes out of the NFC…

  • Sam Darnold seems to be out of the picture in Carolina, but the Panthers still owe the quarterback $18.8MM in guaranteed money in 2022. The team already paid Denver $7MM to inherit Teddy Bridgewater, leaving the organization with $17MM in dead cap. As a result, Joseph Person of The Athletic believes Darnold will stick around as a high-priced backup vs. being involved in a salary dump. Person specifically cites a 2017 trade where the Texans attached a second-round pick to Brock Osweiler to dump his salary on Cleveland; league sources tell the reporter that “an Osweiler-type trade involving Darnold is unlikely.”
  • Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards is a candidate for the head coaching job at his alma mater, Duke University, reports NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). Edwards was a four-year player for Duke, and he served as an assistant on the Duke staff way back in 1996. He’s had a long coaching career since that time, including a recent six-year stint as the Vikings defensive coordinator. Edwards has been a senior defensive assistant with the Cowboys since 2020. Duke parted ways with David Cutcliffe last month.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com recently tweeted the 10 highest salary cap hits for 2022, and the top three spots all belong to the NFC. Falcons QB Matt Ryan and his $48.7MM cap hit leads the way, following by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers at $46.1MM and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins at $45MM. Other NFC players on the list include Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (sixth, $37MM), Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (ninth, $34.5MM), and Lions QB Jared Goff (10th, $31.2MM).

Tim Boyle To Start At QB For Lions; Latest On Coaching Staff

Lions QB Jared Goff is dealing with an oblique injury, so as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports, Tim Boyle will be Detroit’s starting signal-caller in the club’s matchup against the Browns this afternoon. It will be the first start of the 27-year-old’s career.

Boyle served as Aaron Rodgers‘ backup in Green Bay over the past several seasons, and though he had attempted just four career passes, the Lions inked him to a one-year, $2.5MM deal in March after he was non-tendered by the Packers (who were making room for Jordan Love). Unfortunately, Boyle’s strong training camp was marred by a thumb injury, and he was forced to start the 2021 campaign on IR as a result. He was designated to return earlier this month.

In the meantime, David Blough has been operating as Goff’s clipboard holder, and he will stay in his QB2 role today. Schefter says that if Boyle should struggle — he only recently returned to practice, so he is not as sharp as he could be — then Blough could be sent into the game. Because the Lions also play their traditional Thanksgiving contest in just a few days, either Boyle or Blough will likely be in line to start on Turkey Day as well.

It has been another difficult year for the Lions, who managed a tie with the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers last week to improve to 0-8-1. Detroit hoped that Goff, acquired in this offseason’s blockbuster Matthew Stafford trade, would be able to recapture the Pro Bowl form he displayed in the 2017-18 seasons, but he has largely struggled. Though O-line issues and a dearth of receiver talent are at least partially to blame, Goff’s 84.0 QB rating would represent his lowest mark since his seven-game rookie output. As such, Schefter confirms that the Lions’ quarterback situation for the rest of this season and beyond is unsettled.

The team has no realistic way of getting out of Goff’s contract until after the 2022 season, so he will almost certainly be back next year. But it does not sound like he is guaranteed to get his starting job back even when he is fully recovered, and the Lions will likely be in a position to draft one of 2022’s top collegiate passers in the spring. Starting today, Boyle will try to make his case to be involved in the conversation.

Of course, Boyle will have head coach Dan Campbell calling his offensive plays. Campbell took over play-calling duties from OC Anthony Lynn for the Pittsburgh game, and that arrangement will presumably hold through the end of the year. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Campbell — who still has the full respect of his locker room — is not planning to make any in-season coaching changes, but there will probably be some sort of shakeup to the staff in the offseason.

Jared Goff’s Job Not In Jeopardy

The Lions have yet to win their first game of the season, and QB Jared Goff has struggled in the last two contests, including a blowout loss at the hands of the Bengals last week. Rookie head coach Dan Campbell did not mince words in his post-game presser, saying that Goff “needs to step up more than he has.”

Still, Goff is in no immediate danger of being benched, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. After all, backup signal-caller David Blough is clearly not the long-term solution at quarterback, and Goff might still be, so there have been no conversations about pulling Goff from the starting lineup.

The fact that the rebuilding Lions have dealt with significant O-line injuries and are lacking talent at the wide receiver position should also buy Goff a little bit of slack. Plus, the club has at least been competitive in several games this season, and arguably should have defeated Baltimore in Week 3 and Minnesota in Week 5.

There is also Goff’s contract to consider. New GM Brad Holmes said his decision to take on Goff’s mega-deal in this offseason’s blockbuster trade with the Rams was not solely motivated by his ability to squeeze more draft picks out of Los Angeles, and that he believes Goff can recapture the Pro Bowl form he displayed in the 2017-18 seasons. Still, Goff is guaranteed $26.15MM next year, and the Lions cannot realistically get out of his deal before the end of the 2022 campaign, so he will be given every chance to earn his keep.

Through six games in 2021, Goff has completed 66.8% of his passes for seven TDs and four picks. His 86.9 QB rating — which has been dragged down by his last two outings — positions him in the bottom third of the league, and Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics consider him the 26th-best passer out of 33 qualified players.