By Chris Farbolin
NFL teams almost never trade franchise QBs to each other anymore, but that didn’t stop the Lions and Rams from pulling off a blockbuster deal before the offseason even began. Matthew Stafford and the Lions mutually agreed to part ways after the 2020 season, where the Lions went a disappointing 5-11. The relationship between Rams head coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff appeared to reach a breaking point as well which resulted in one of the biggest trades in recent NFL history. The trade details go as follows:
Rams receive QB Matthew Stafford.
Lions receive QB Jared Goff, a 2021 3rd round pick, a 2022 1st round pick and a 2023 1st round pick.
When it comes to winners and losers from this trade, it’s a bit complicated. For the quarterbacks, there is a clear winner and clear loser. The winner is Matthew Stafford, who goes to a loaded roster and Sean McVay. This is welcome news for Stafford after carrying the Lions organization for 12 seasons. Stafford has always flown under the radar as one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL and has been overlooked due to the team around him. The Lions have had bad defenses, running games and offensive lines, and have run through general managers and head coaches for years. Stafford will have as good of a chance as ever to finally get that elusive first playoff win and potentially make a run at a Super Bowl. Jared Goff, however, lost this trade, as he goes from an elite coach in Sean McVay to a first-year coach in Dan Campbell. Goff also gets a massive downgrade on defense, along with the offensive line and running game. To make matters worse, both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are set to become free agents, so Goff may be working with a depleted wide receiver core. We also don’t even know if the Lions view Goff as a long term option. Detroit did also get two first round picks in the deal, so maybe it views Goff as a short term option to be used as a trade piece. Only time will tell.
Although there is a clear winner and loser amongst the two quarterbacks, the trade is much more even for the Lions and Rams. This trade gives both teams what they need for where they are from a competitive standpoint. The Rams are in their “Super Bowl window” and are focused on short term success. Many wonder why the Rams gave up three draft picks, including two firsts. The truth is, the Rams roster is so good they don’t really need first round picks. The defense is already elite with Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and other high caliber players on that side of the ball. The Rams also have a good offensive line and great skill players such as rookie RB Cam Akers, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Los Angeles needed a more talented QB to raise the ceiling of the organization, and it got that with Stafford. Les Snead, the Rams GM, has also done a great job drafting in the later rounds in recent years, which has made up for not having any first round picks since 2016. The Lions also got what they needed out of this trade in draft capital and a younger, healthier franchise QB. It’s no secret the Lions are in a rebuild, and one thing rebuilding teams need is leverage. The Lions now have a lot of draft capital and the freedom to do what they please with it. The Lions have Goff under contract through 2024, so they can use those draft picks to build around their young QB. They could also trade those picks for more picks in later rounds, or even trade the picks and/or Goff to move up and get a new franchise quarterback. The Lions aren’t competing in the NFC North as long as Aaron Rodgers is around, so it’s the perfect time to rebuild.
Edited by Emma Moloney