John Wolford

Matthew Stafford Placed On IR; Rams To Start John Wolford

DECEMBER 3: Casting further doubt on Stafford’s 2022 return, the Rams announced on Saturday that their starter has been placed on IR. That will leave him sidelined until at least Week 17, by which point the defending champions will likely have been eliminated from postseason contention. With the open roster spot, the Rams have activated rookie linebacker Daniel Hardy from IR.

DECEMBER 2: Matthew Stafford is out of concussion protocol, but the Super Bowl-winning quarterback is not returning to the Rams’ lineup just yet. After Sean McVay said earlier this week it was unlikely Stafford played in Week 13, the Rams are sticking to those guns.

Stafford will sit for a second straight week and third time in four games. Rather than Bryce Perkins, who started in Week 12 against the Chiefs, the Rams will go with John Wolford against the Seahawks. Neck pain and leg numbness led Stafford into the protocol for the second time this season.

Rams caution with Stafford does not surprise. The sides agreed to a four-year, $160MM extension this offseason, and a shell of an offensive line has contributed to the defending Super Bowl champions’ slide. The Rams are 3-8 and making a run at finishing with the worst record by a defending Super Bowl champion — in a non-strike season — in NFL history. The prospect of Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp being shut down for the season remains in play.

Stafford, 34, has taken almost as many sacks in nine games this season (29) as he did during 17 games last year (30). A Rams line that has seen first- and second-stringers go down, with injuries ransacking the unit at every position save for right tackle, has contributed to a few of the team’s problems. L.A. ranks 31st in rushing yards, and were Stafford to come back, he would also be without his two highest-profile receivers. It does not look like Kupp will return from ankle surgery this season, and Allen Robinson‘s disappointing Rams debut is already over due to a foot injury.

Thus, a backup-laden offense will be in the hands of a backup quarterback. It is uncertain if it will stay that way through January, but Wolford is back in the mix for now. A one-time unlikely playoff starter, Wolford has two career regular-season starts. The Rams lost his 2022 start — in Week 10 against the Cardinals — but saw their longtime backup suffer a neck injury as well, leading to Perkins. A 2020 UDFA, Perkins finished with 100 passing yards and two interceptions in the Rams’ loss in Kansas City.

Coming into this season, Stafford had only missed time in one of his previous 12 campaigns. A back injury shut him down in 2019. The former No. 1 overall pick has played through numerous issues during his career, but the Rams have him in limbo for the time being.

RFA/ERFA Tender Signings: 4/19/22

Here’s a look at the latest tender signings from around the NFL:

RFAs

Signed:

ERFAs

Signed:

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 To Have Open QB Competition In Training Camp

With each passing day, it becomes more and more clear how little confidence the Rams have in Jared Goff. Earlier this week, GM Les Snead said Goff “is a Ram at this moment” and that it’s “too early” to tell his future. In other words, the kiss of death in GM-speak.

Immediately after Los Angeles’ season ended with a playoff loss to Green Bay, Sean McVay said Goff was the quarterback “right now.” Now it appears that even if Goff manages to make it to training camp on the roster, he’s not guarantee the starting job. There will be an open competition for the job in Rams camp between Goff and John Wolford, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is told (Twitter video link), and that’s if Goff isn’t traded first.

Rapsheet’s comments also seem to indicate there’s a good chance Goff is dealt this offseason, although it’s unclear who would want to take on his hefty contract. It’s a remarkable fall from grace for the former first overall pick, as just a couple of years ago Goff was thriving in McVay’s system and led the Rams to the Super Bowl. As Rapoport points out, Goff’s 45 wins since the 2017 season are second in the league behind only Tom Brady.

On the other hand if me manages to win the job, it would be a meteoric rise for Wolford. As of a month ago, he had never taken a regular season NFL snap. He then got the start in Week 17 after Goff hurt his thumb, and started the Rams’ wild card win over Seattle. He was quickly knocked out of that game though, and Goff (serving as the emergency quarterback) took over and got the win.

Goff’s NFC title run earned him a huge extension, one that Snead and McVay have now clearly come to regret. He’s signed through the 2024 season, although a team could very easily get out of it after the 2022 campaign, when cutting him would only have an $8.6MM dead cap hit per Spotrac.

This surely isn’t the last we’ve heard of the Rams’ quarterback situation. Snead and McVay have been very aggressive making moves during their time together (like with the trade for Jalen Ramsey), and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if they manage to pull off another splash despite limited resources.

Rams To Start Jared Goff Vs. Packers

Jared Goff will return to the Rams’ starting lineup in Green Bay. The Rams’ fifth-year starting quarterback has participated fully in practice throughout the week, and Sean McVay confirmed it will be Goff taking the snaps Saturday.

Los Angeles’ starter the past two weeks, John Wolford has not practiced this week after suffering a neck injury against the Seahawks. The Rams have ruled Wolford out for the team’s divisional-round game against the Packers. Blake Bortles will dress as Los Angeles’ backup quarterback, McVay said.

Despite Goff undergoing thumb surgery earlier this month, the Rams dressed only he and Wolford against the Seahawks. Johnny Hekker became the team’s backup after Wolford’s hospitalization. The Rams have a fourth quarterback option, rookie UDFA Bryce Perkins, who resides on their practice squad.

Goff delivered an uneven but effective performance against the Seahawks (9 of 19, 155 yards, one touchdown pass), against whom he suffered the thumb injury in Week 16. After previously never missing a start due to injury through four-plus seasons, he will attempt to pilot the Rams to an upset win over the Packers.

Rams To Start QB John Wolford

John Wolford will make his second career start today. The Rams will turn to their backup again, with Jared Goff active and serving as an emergency backup, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports tweets.

Goff underwent thumb surgery last week. Although the longtime Rams starter went through warmups, Sean McVay confirmed Wolford will make a second straight start.

Having previously never missed a start due to injury, Goff played after suffering the thumb injury in Seattle two weeks ago. He did not play well and then sat in Week 17. Wolford accounted for nearly 300 yards against Arizona last week, rushing for 56 on six carries.

A Wake Forest alum, Wolford began his pro career as a Jets UDFA in 2018. His most notable pre-Rams action came with the Alliance of American Football, however. When the AAF folded midway through its inaugural season, Wolford signed with the Rams in April 2019. He spent last season behind Goff and Blake Bortles. Despite the Rams signing Bortles off the Broncos’ practice squad, Wolford will start in Los Angeles’ playoff opener.

Rams Planning To Sign QB Blake Bortles

With Jared Goff being sidelined by a thumb injury, the Rams will be turning to a familiar face. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that Los Angeles is planning to sign Blake Bortles off the Broncos practice squad.

However, this impending signing shouldn’t add any confusion to this weekend’s depth chart. The team announced that Goff is officially out in a crucial contest against the Cardinals, with John Wolford getting the start under center. Meanwhile, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic explains (on Twitter) that the Rams will likely promote Bryce Perkins from the practice squad, meaning they’ll temporarily be holding four quarterbacks (Goff, Wolford, Bortles, Perkins) on their active roster. One or two of these quarterbacks will likely land on the Rams practice squad once Goff is ready to return.

Following a disappointing five-year stint with the Jaguars, Bortles signed a one-year deal with the Rams during the 2019 offseason. He proceeded to appear in three games last season, completing a single three-yard pass. After going unsigned throughout the 2020 offseason, Bortles joined the Broncos in September following an injury to Drew Lock. He was eventually released by Denver and landed back on their practice squad.

In 78 career games, Bortles has completed 59.3-percent of his passes for 17,649 yards, 103 touchdowns, and 75 interceptions. The two quarterbacks currently ahead of him on the depth chart, Wolford and Perkins, have yet to appear in an NFL game.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/12/20

The Vikings added a group of players on reserve/futures contracts today, and we also missed some of the Rams’ from earlier in the week. For a primer/refresher on what exactly these deals entail, click here.

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

Polite is the most well-known of the bunch. A highly regarded talent, he fell to the Jets with the 68th pick this past draft because of off-field concerns. He was shockingly cut by New York despite being an early third-round pick, and eventually ended up on the Rams’ practice squad.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC West

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC West teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks and 49ers are noted below.

Additionally, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads today. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Arizona Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks