Matthew Stafford

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.

Rams Considering Shutting Down Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp

NOVEMBER 30: Week 13 will double as Donald’s first missed NFL game due to injury. The Rams ruled out the seven-time All-Pro defensive tackle for their Seahawks matchup. McVay also confirmed Stafford remains in concussion protocol and is unlikely to play against Seattle.

NOVEMBER 29: Aaron Donald can now be added to the list of high-profile Rams to have suffered significant injuries this season. Sean McVay said the team’s medical staff communicated to him the perennial All-Pro defensive lineman likely sustained a high ankle sprain against the Chiefs, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets.

Considering this immense letdown of a season, Donald is not a lock to return this year. McVay said the team has not ruled out shutting down Donald, Cooper Kupp or Matthew Stafford. The defending Super Bowl champions gave new deals to all three players this offseason, and while the team will not exactly be obtaining value from those lucrative accords by sidelining the cornerstone performers, ensuring these health issues do not bleed into the offseason would stand to be important.

Although Kupp and Stafford have missed stretches of seasons before, Donald has been one of the league’s most durable players. The seven-time All-Pro has never missed a game due to injury; his only absences (two) came because of a 2017 holdout. Over the course of his second Rams contract, Donald became one of the greatest defenders in NFL history. He derailed the Bengals’ final drive in Super Bowl LVI and may well have won MVP acclaim were ballots not required to be turned in before that drive.

Donald, 31, threatened retirement and sent the Rams a letter — amid contract negotiations — informing them of his intentions to walk away. The Rams came back to the table with an unprecedented offer — a straight raise with no new years added, making Donald the NFL’s highest-paid defender again. Donald’s $31.6MM-per-year average dwarfs the rest of the D-tackle market; no other interior D-lineman makes more than $21MM per annum. That deal has not started off well for the Rams, who have seen their run of good health in recent years deteriorate into a mess that has this team on course to be the worst defending Super Bowl champion in league history.

Donald’s third Rams pact runs through 2024; he is set to count $26MM against Los Angeles’ cap next year. That money is guaranteed, though Donald’s 2024 cash is not. This season, Donald’s production has dipped a bit. The ninth-year defender has five sacks and 11 quarterback hits. While he still would have had time to move toward his seventh double-digit sack season, this injury will probably nix such an effort.

Kupp underwent ankle surgery and is expected to miss at least the next four games. Considering that timetable and the Rams’ 3-8 record, it seems unlikely the All-Pro wideout will play again this year. Stafford has spent the past two weeks in concussion protocol, with a neck issue leading him back there after he left the Rams’ Week 11 loss to the Saints early. Conflicting reports surfaced about Stafford returning this season, but the Rams are unsurprisingly considering punting on the rest of the veteran quarterback’s 14th season and regrouping in 2023. Stafford’s new deal runs through 2026.

The Rams squandered key seasons from their well-paid trio. Donald will turn 32 in May; Stafford will be 35 in February. Kupp is younger, but he will hit 30 in June. The team, which also placed Allen Robinson on IR on Tuesday because of a season-ending foot injury, may see its skeleton crew thin further in the weeks ahead. Although the 1982 49ers finished 3-6, a strike-shortened season impacted their first title defense. No defending Super Bowl champion has finished with fewer than six wins in a non-strike-shortened campaign; if the Rams are to be without Donald and Stafford the rest of the way, they might have a hard time making it to 6-11. The Lions hold the Rams’ 2023 first-round pick.

Latest On Rams QB Matthew Stafford

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is missing his second game of the season today in concussion protocol. With the Rams at 3-7 coming into today with seven games left in the season, there are some questions on how to handle the 34-year-old’s health for the rest of the year.

Stafford’s first missed game due to a concussion a couple weeks ago was the result of Stafford self-reporting symptoms following the team’s Week 9 loss to the Buccaneers. He was placed in concussion protocols and sat out the division contest against the Cardinals the next week.

This time, Stafford was experiencing what are called crossover symptoms that could seem like a concussion but may not be. In the team’s recent loss to the Saints last weekend, Stafford was pulled from the game when he experienced a stinger to his neck. He began to feel numbness in his legs, which can be a sign of head or neck injury, and since the Rams were not able to rule out a concussion during the game, Stafford was held out and placed in concussion protocol.

Looking at the Rams’ plans for the remainder of the season, we begin to get conflicting reports. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network claims that multiple sources have said “there are no current plans to shut down Stafford for the remainder of the season.” In another report, the Rams reportedly “are uncertain when or if (Stafford) will return this season,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Rapoport claims that, despite the team’s record, Los Angeles hopes to return Stafford to the field when he’s cleared in order to perhaps make a push for a wild card spot down the final stretch of the season. Schefter doesn’t rule out that possibility but emphasizes that, similar to the injury to wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the Rams “feel there is no need to rush back an injured player,” after losing four straight games and six of their last seven.

In the meantime, while they determine how to proceed, they are getting a look at their backup options. After John Wolford started during Stafford’s first absence, Bryce Perkins, who went undrafted out of Virginia in 2020, is currently playing in his first career start against the Chiefs today.

Rams Rule Out Matthew Stafford For Week 12

After being placed in the concussion protocol once again, it comes as little surprise that the Rams will be without their starting quarterback for the second time in three weeks. The team has ruled out Matthew Stafford for their Week 12 matchup against the Chiefs, though the reason being cited could be cause for additional concern.

Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets that, in addition to being in concussion protocol, Stafford has undergone neck and spine testing. The Rams believe that he is currently dealing with a neck strain, ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds (Twitter link). That would add further to Stafford’s injury problems which have been ever-present this campaign.

The 34-year-old faced concerns over his throwing elbow in the lead-in to the season, his second with the Rams. The ailment has been understood as something to simply be dealt with throughout the campaign, rather than one requiring surgery and an extended absence. Then, in Week 10, Stafford was sidelined by a concussion.

Coming off a massive extension signed this offseason, the former Lion has struggled considerably this year relative to his Super-Bowl winning campaign of 2021. The same is true as a whole for the Rams’ offense, which ranks 29th in the league in both yards and points per game. Injuries suffered along the offensive line, and by wideout Cooper Kupp, leave the unit with a much more bleak outlook for the remainder of the season than their performance last season and summer expectations would have suggested.

In the immediate future, attention will turn not to John Wolford – who filled in for Stafford in Week 10 – but rather rookie Bryce Perkins. With the former also banged up, the latter is expected to receive first-team reps in practice this week (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport). Perkins, a UDFA out of Virginia, saw the field for five snaps during the Rams’ loss to the Cardinals 10 days ago, but he will now be in line for his first career start.

The undermanned Rams will face a tough challenge in attempting to snap their four-game losing streak when they visit Kansas City on Sunday. The intermediate- and long-term health of their starting quarterback will remain a more important situation to monitor regardless of the outcome of the game, however.

Rams QB Matthew Stafford Back In Concussion Protocol

Matthew Stafford is back in concussion protocol. Days after exiting the multi-step process, the Rams have once again placed their QB in concussion protocol, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (on Twitter). Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweeted yesterday that Stafford would undergo further testing in Los Angeles to determine the next step.

Stafford exited yesterday’s loss to the Saints during the third quarter and didn’t return. The veteran QB previously entered concussion protocol following Los Angeles’ Week 9 loss to the Buccaneers. At the time, coach Sean McVay said he wasn’t aware of Stafford’s concussion symptoms during that game, but doctors later determined that it was “appropriate” for the QB to enter protocol, per ESPN’s Sarah Barshop.

The veteran QB had just exited concussion protocol on Friday after missing Week 10, and it seems like the organization may be proceeding with the utmost caution. Considering today’s development, it sounds like Stafford is at risk of missing another game.

“Yesterday, when we went into the tent, (we) got his symptoms, he checked out feeling pretty good, but we wanted to be over-precautious,” McVay said earlier today (via the team’s website). “But where he’s at right now, as it relates to his status, still in evaluation to see if we are going to put him in the protocol.”

Following last season’s Super Bowl championship, Stafford has struggled in 2022, perhaps due to lingering elbow issues. The Rams are 3-6 in Stafford’s nine starts, with the QB completing 68 percent of his passes for 2,087 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Bryce Perkins filled in for Stafford on Sunday, completing five of his 10 pass attempts for 64 yards while adding another 39 yards on the ground. John Wolford, who is currently dealing with a neck injury, started in place of Stafford during LA’s Week 10 loss to the Cardinals.

Panthers QB Notes: Darnold, Mayfield, Rhule, Herbert, Stafford, Tepper, Watson

Although the Panthers are starting Baker Mayfield in Week 11, they want to see Sam Darnold in action this season. Steve Wilks said he would like to give Darnold some work, though the interim HC did not indicate that would be certain to happen this week against the Ravens. “I’m interested in winning the game. This is not pay $250 to get to play,” Wilks said, via The Athletic’s Joe Person (on Twitter).

Carolina used one of its injury activations to move Darnold onto its 53-man roster last week, but the former No. 3 overall pick did not see any action against the Falcons. P.J. Walker is out of the picture for the time being, after becoming the third Carolina QB this season to suffer a high ankle sprain. Mayfield will make his first start since sustaining his ankle injury in Week 9. Here is the latest from what has become one of the more complex QB situations in recent NFL history:

  • After playing hurt last season, Mayfield has not turned it around. On the radar for a potential franchise-QB deal in 2021, Mayfield is on track for free agency for the first time. The market for the former No. 1 overall pick may check in at $5-$7MM on a prove-it deal, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. Mayfield’s 17.7 QBR ranks last in the NFL.
  • This situation has been in flux since Cam Newton‘s 2019 foot injury. Prior to the team making the Newton-for-Teddy Bridgewater change, GM Marty Hurney and most of the Panthers’ scouts were high on Justin Herbert. But Matt Rhule did not view 2020 as the window to draft a quarterback, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com indicating in an expansive piece the team saw a jump from No. 7 overall to No. 4 — ahead of the QB-seeking Dolphins and Chargers — as too costly. While then-Giants GM Dave Gettleman was not keen on trading down, going most of his GM career without ever doing so, the Panthers not making a push for Herbert has led to QB chaos.
  • After the Panthers determined Bridgewater — a preference of former OC Joe Brady — would be a one-and-done in Charlotte, they made a big offer for Matthew Stafford. Negotiations between new Panthers GM Scott Fitterer and Lions rookie GM Brad Holmes at the 2021 Senior Bowl led to Panthers brass leaving Mobile believing they were set to acquire Stafford, Fowler notes. It is interesting to learn how far the GMs progressed in talks, because Stafford made it known soon after he did not want to play for the Panthers. The Rams then came in late with their two-first-rounder offer, forcing the Panthers and others to look elsewhere.
  • Rhule then pushed hard for Darnold, Fowler adds, after Panthers staffers went through film sessions evaluating he, Carson Wentz and Drew Lock. The Panthers sent the Jets second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks for the former No. 3 overall pick and picked up his guaranteed $18.9MM fifth-year option. Owner David Tepper begrudgingly picked up the option but became irked by the 2023 cost hanging over the franchise, per Fowler. Tepper is believed to have held up this year’s Mayfield trade talks in order to move the Browns to pick up more money on his option salary. The delay was connected to the Panthers already having Darnold’s fifth-year option to pay.
  • Tepper’s main prize during this multiyear QB odyssey, Deshaun Watson, was leery of the Panthers’ staff uncertainty, Fowler adds. All things being equal between the four finalists — Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, New Orleans — the Panthers were not believed to be Watson’s first choice. The Falcons were viewed as the team that would have landed Watson if the Browns did not make that unprecedented $230MM guarantee offer.
  • Fitterer offered support for a Mitch Trubisky signing this offseason, according to Fowler, who adds the team never engaged in extended talks with Jimmy Garoppolo‘s camp. While Garoppolo said the Panthers were in the mix, the team was believed to be leery of his injury history. Trubisky is in Year 1 of a two-year, $14.3MM deal. While Trubisky may well be available again in 2023, the Panthers — having added six draft picks from the Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson trades — will be connected to this year’s crop of QB prospects.

Matthew Stafford Cleared For Week 11 Return

The Rams were on the losing end of an all-backup quarterback battle last week, but they are set to have their starter available under center on Sunday. Matthew Stafford has been removed from the team’s injury report and is in line to play against the Saints.

Stafford had missed Los Angeles’ loss to the Cardinals in Week 10 due to a concussion. He made steady progress in recent days, though, lining him up to be cleared in time for Sunday’s game. The Rams turned to backup John Wolford in Stafford’s absence, with the exception of a handful of snaps given to rookie Bryce Perkins.

Stafford being back at the helm will be a welcomed sight, despite that fact that his second season with the Rams has not gone as smoothly as his first. The 34-year-old has an 8:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio (after throwing five in the first two games, and one in three consecutive contests between Weeks 4 and 6) while averaging 46 fewer passing yards per game than 2021.

Overall, the Rams rank 17th in the league in that regard, as they have struggled mightily on offense. The run game has fared even worse, of course, but a healthy Stafford could especially be needed moving forward given the fact the the team’s most consistent contributor is now out of the picture.

Cooper Kupp‘s high ankle sprain required surgery and has landed him on IR, leaving him sidelined for at least four games. With the Rams sitting at 3-6, that has led to questions about whether the the reigning Offensive Player of the Year will see the field again in 2022. An offensive resurgence will be needed to bring the team back into playoff contention.

Stafford – who like Kupp and Aaron Donald signed a big-ticket extension this offseason – entered the campaign with concerns over his throwing elbow, though the more significant concern has become the offensive line in front of him. On that note, ESPN’s Sarah Barshop reports that neither guard David Andrews nor center Brian Allen will be available against the Saints (Twitter links). That will induce even more alterations to the injury-ravaged unit, while the Rams look to end their three-game skid with the No. 1 QB back in the fold.

Matthew Stafford Expected To Miss Week 10

NOVEMBER 12: ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that Stafford will indeed miss out on tomorrow’s game, barring a “drastic change” (Twitter link). That will leave Wolford in line for his third career start.

NOVEMBER 9: The Rams have lost four of their past five games and have seen their offense crater from its 2021 form. The defending Super Bowl champions now face the prospect of their starting quarterback being unavailable.

Sean McVay said Wednesday that Matthew Stafford is in the team’s concussion protocol. The 34-year-old quarterback entered the protocol Tuesday, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. It is believed Stafford sustained the concussion against the Buccaneers on Sunday, but the Rams noticed symptoms during standard checks with the 14th-year veteran Tuesday (Twitter link).

With the protocol having been enhanced this season, a scenario in which the Rams play without him in Week 10 is certainly on the table. Stafford has not missed a game since joining the Rams and has only missed games in one of the past 12 seasons (2019). The Rams (3-5) host the Cardinals (3-6) on Sunday.

Rams backup John Wolford has been with the team since 2019, when the Rams signed him after a stay in the Alliance of American Football. Wolford started in place of Jared Goff late during the 2020 season, replacing the longtime starter for Los Angeles’ regular-season finale and in the team’s wild-card playoff game against the Seahawks. A Goff hand injury led to Wolford starting in Seattle, but Wolford suffered a subsequent injury that summoned Goff back into action. Between the regular season and playoffs, Wolford has thrown 48 career passes.

The league’s revised protocol, put in place earlier this season following Tua Tagovailoa‘s controversial re-entry into the Dolphins’ Week 3 game after he showed concussion symptoms, added ataxia — defined as an “abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue” — to the list of mandatory no-go symptoms. The changes to the protocol have led to more players, including Dolphins backup QB Teddy Bridgewater, being ruled out of games due to head injuries.

Following his removal from a game due to ataxia, Bridgewater cleared the protocol six days after his removal from a Dolphins-Jets game. The Dolphins still started third-stringer Skylar Thompson in their matchup with the Vikings, but Bridgewater replaced the rookie after an early-game injury. The steps back to action for players remain more complicated compared to the protocol’s previous seasons, providing another hiccup for a Rams team that has traversed a bumpy title-defense season.

Stafford dealt with an elbow issue throughout the offseason and has been sacked 28 times. He was only dropped 30 times during the entire 2021 season. Only Justin Fields (33) and Joe Burrow (30) have been sacked more than Stafford, who took four against the Buccaneers. Offensive line issues have led to Stafford’s sack spike. The Rams have dealt with injuries everywhere but right tackle up front and have seen second-string blockers go down as well. This has hindered McVay’s offense, which ranks 31st in scoring entering Week 10. None of McVay’s first five Rams offenses have ranked worse than 11th.

Rams Were Interested In Jimmy Garoppolo

The 49ers temporarily put the Jimmy Garoppolo rumors to bed when they agreed to a reworked contract with the veteran passer at the end of August. San Francisco had been trying all offseason to work out a trade, but at the beginning of training camp, the club approached Garoppolo about sticking around as Trey Lance‘s backup. No other club had a starting job materialize throughout the course of the preseason, so Garoppolo eventually accepted the Niners’ proposal.

However, if San Francisco had released Garoppolo — which was long seen as the most likely outcome if a trade did not come to fruition — the division-rival Rams were prepared to pounce, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports. While it was well-known that another NFC West outfit, the Seahawks, may have attempted to sign Garoppolo if he had hit the open market, Schefter says the 49ers were unaware of Los Angeles’ interest until after the restructured deal was consummated (interestingly, Schefter also writes that the Rams and Garoppolo had the “makings of a deal” in place, which raises tampering concerns; the 49ers had given Garoppolo permission to seek a trade, but not to negotiate a potential free agent contract).

In LA, Garoppolo would have been the backup to Matthew Stafford, who did not throw during spring work due to right elbow issues. Obviously, the team was comfortable enough with Stafford’s prognosis to hand him a hefty extension in March, and in the run-up to the Rams’ Week 1 loss to the Bills on Thursday, head coach Sean McVay said his QB would not have any limitations (via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required)). Despite those confident words, Stafford is 34, has dealt with tendinitis that required an anti-inflammatory injection in the spring, and has thrown over 7,000 regular season and postseason passes in his pro career. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Stafford went into the Buffalo game feeling better than he did throughout the 2021 season, though an accomplished QB2 certainly would have made sense for a team that has its eyes on a second consecutive championship.

Many have interpreted the 49ers’ decision to keep Garoppolo in the fold as an indictment on Lance’s performance this summer. The team, naturally, has continued to publicly express full faith in Lance, but Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post says that sources around the league do not believe San Francisco is as confident in its second-year passer as it professes to be. As one general manager told La Canfora, “It’s not what you say; it’s what you do and when you do it. A deal like that doesn’t come together overnight, and it got done right before the season. That tells you all you need to know. They think they need their backup to play.”

Albert Breer of SI.com says Garoppolo’s return was somewhat difficult for Lance to stomach at first, though he does not believe Lance will allow the decision to impact him moving forward. And, in contrast to La Canfora’s sources, Rapoport and NFL.com colleague Tom Pelissero hear that Lance does not have a short leash and that the 49ers are definitely “his team.” The NFL.com duo reiterates that, assuming the Niners do not need to call on Garoppolo this year, a midseason trade of Jimmy G is still an option, especially since his new contract makes the financials more palatable for an interested club.

Matthew Stafford On Elbow Injury

One of the top storylines around the Rams in recent weeks has been the lingering issue affecting quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s throwing elbow. Just as the team expressed confidence that it won’t affect his availability for the start of the regular season, Stafford himself has downplayed its significance. 

[RELATED: Rams Deny Stafford Experienced Setback]

“I’m just going through something that is irritating, at the moment, but I’m working through it,” the 34-year-old said, via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required). “We’ve got a great plan. I’m feeling stronger every time I come out and throw… I’m right on track, feeling good.”

Stafford sat out for OTAs, but resumed throwing at the beginning of training camp. Shortly thereafter, though, his workload was scaled down again, as the team looks to keep him on a ‘pitch count.’ Head coach Sean McVay repeated over the weekend that Stafford (who participated in team drills on Saturday) remains “very much on track with what we had hoped” regarding his scheduled recovery.

Neither McVay nor Stafford have stated whether of not they anticipate the unnamed issue will remain a chronic problem into the regular season. The latter described it as “just a little soreness, [which] we’re working through.” Rodrigue posits that the team is using an abundance of caution while managing the stress on Stafford, who played a 21-game schedule last year (combining regular and postseason games) and has a well-documented history of playing through injury.

Given the financial investment the defending champions have made in him, waiting until closer to the beginning of the regular season to increase Stafford’s workload again could prove to be wise. In any event, the Pro Bowler’s remarks on the danger of setting himself back through overextension should be cause for optimism for all involved.

“It’s not one of those things that, the more I throw, the worse it’s gonna get. It’s kind of just a balancing act at this point.”