Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is heading to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff and a multitude of draft picks, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday night.
The Lions will receive a third-round pick in 2021, a first-round pick in 2022 and a first-round pick in 2023 in the exchange of former No. 1 overall picks. The deal cannot be made official until March 17, the start of the new league year.
Following news of the trade, the Rams’ Super Bowl odds for the 2021 season moved from +1800 to +1500 at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.
It’s the first big move made by new Lions general manager Brad Holmes, who was hired earlier this month from the Rams, where he was the director of college scouting. He said during his introductory news conference he wanted to build the team through the draft. Now he’ll get extra draft capital to do so.
The Rams traded up from the No. 15 selection to select Goff first overall in the 2016 NFL draft, making a splash in their return to L.A. after 21 seasons in St. Louis. They will not make another first-round selection until 2024.
Goff, who turned 26 in October, leaves L.A. after five seasons, including four under Rams coach Sean McVay, and with a 42-27 record. He made seven winless starts as a rookie under former coach Jeff Fisher before the Rams hired McVay, who was known for his offensive acumen and ability to develop quarterbacks. McVay and Goff flourished in their first two seasons together, winning back-to-back division titles and an NFC championship.
The Rams awarded Goff a four-year, $134 million extension with $110 million guaranteed after he led the Rams to a Super Bowl LIII appearance. However, the offense never appeared the same after a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl as the Rams fell from a top-scoring team to an average unit the past two seasons.
Issues between Goff and McVay became apparent during the 2020 season despite a 10-6 record. After a 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12, McVay publicly called out the quarterback for three turnovers and demanded that the issue improve. Over the past two seasons, Goff ranked second in the NFL with 38 turnovers.
McVay opted to start undrafted free agent backup John Wolford in a wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks despite Goff telling his coach that he would be ready to play 12 days removed from surgery on his throwing hand thumb. Wolford was forced to leave the game in the first quarter because of a neck injury and Goff, the only available backup, passed for 155 yards and a touchdown in the 30-20 win. After the game, Goff expressed disappointment that he did not start.
A week later, in a divisional playoff against the Green Bay Packers, McVay was forced to start Goff with Wolford sidelined because of his neck. Goff passed for 174 yards and a touchdown in a 32-18 loss.
After the game, when asked if Goff was his quarterback, McVay said, “Yeah, he’s our quarterback, right now.”
Earlier this week, Rams general manager Les Snead did not provide a public vote of confidence for Goff when asked multiple times about his future with the Rams.
“Moving on from Jared Goff, that’s … the money we’ve invested in him, that’s not easy to overcome,” said Snead, who added later that “anything can be done” in a cap-based system.
When asked following Detroit’s final game of the 2020 season if he thought it was his final game with the Lions, Stafford said he did not want to get into hypothetical situations. Soon after the season concluded, Stafford went to Lions team president Rod Wood and mentioned a trade might be best for both sides.
Stafford will leave Detroit as the team’s all-time leader in every passing category. He is No. 16 all-time in NFL passing yards (45,109) and passing touchdowns (282), No. 18 in attempts (6,224) and No. 14 in completions (3,898). His career passer rating of 89.9 is No. 21 all-time and his 144 interceptions are tied for No. 66 all-time with Joe Flacco and Steve Bartkowski.
He’s No. 4 all-time in passing yards per game (273.4) behind just Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck, is second all-time behind Luck in attempts per game (37.7) and fourth in completions per game (23.6) behind Brees, Mahomes and Matt Ryan.
Stafford came into the league as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Georgia and became Detroit’s starter immediately. Injuries, including a separated shoulder, hampered his first two seasons in the NFL, but he went on to start all but eight games for Detroit since the start of the 2011 season.
When he had to miss the final eight games of the 2019 season due to fractured bones in his back, it ended a streak of 136 straight starts — at the time the sixth-longest consecutive starts streak for a quarterback in NFL history.
Stafford has dealt with a multitude of ailments over the years, including injuries to his ribs, ankle and right thumb last season. He also played in 2018 with fractures in his back and a PIP dislocation of the middle finger of his throwing hand in 2016 among other things.
While the Lions never won the NFC North with Stafford as their quarterback, he kept them largely competitive over the past decade as the team’s first draft pick after the 0-16 season in 2008. Stafford had eight seasons of 4,000-or-more yards passing and a 5,038-yard season in 2011, when he also threw a career-high 41 touchdowns.
Stafford has thrown at least 20 touchdowns in every full season of his career — and at least 10 interceptions as well.