The Los Angeles Rams began their offseason over the weekend when they traded Jared Goff and two first round picks in exchange for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. While the trade won’t become official until the start of the league year on March 1, Les Snead and co. are certainly working hard.
The trade certainly changes the outlook for the Rams not only in the upcoming season but also this offseason. The Rams go from a team that might have made the quarterback position a priority in the draft to a team that will focus on surrounding Stafford with talent that will allow him to succeed. Meanwhile, Goff’s situation certainly changes. The Lions top two wide receivers are set to hit free agency and the Lions had the worst defense in the NFL last season. Detroit has a top-10 pick in a loaded wide receiver class. Trading Goff also opens things up cap-wise. Depending on what the Rams do, they can move into the top-10 in salary cap this offseason.
What does Matthew Stafford bring to the Rams?
Over the last two seasons the Rams have gotten inconsistency from the quarterback position. There are too many times that the Rams win in spite of Jared Goff rather than because of Jared Goff. Yes, Goff won 44 games for the Rams since 2017, however, put Stafford in his situation and the numbers might actually be the same of not slightly better.
Let’s put this in perspective, the Lions won five games last year. Stafford led game-winning drives in four of them. The Lions might have been a one-win team if not for Matthew Stafford.
Stafford brings a quarterback that thrives in play action. Since 2019, Stafford has generated the 2nd-most EPA on play action (+84.7) despite using play action at a below-average rate (23.5% of dropbacks).
The Rams have struggled with the deep ball over the last two seasons. Stafford has ranked second in deep ball rate since 2019 while Goff ranked 31st. Some of that can be blamed on the Rams offensive line, but it’s not as if Stafford had an all-pro offensive line either.
The last big improvement will be under pressure. Matthew Stafford is a quarterback that thrives under pressure while pressure seemed to rattle Goff. Last season, Stafford had a 91.8 passer rating under pressure. That was good for second-best in the NFL behind only Justin Herbert. Goff had a 45.9 passer rating. That translates to PFF grades as well. Stafford had a grade up 60 under pressure while Goff’s grade was 32.
The biggest thing is that the Rams are going to get a veteran quarterback that doesn’t turn the ball over at an exceedingly high-rate. Stafford’s pure arm talent is miles better than Goffs. Lastly, with Stafford’s experience, McVay gets a quarterback that has experience reading coverages and can adjust based on the coverage. The Rams got better at the quarterback position and now they’ll hope it turns into a championship.
What’s Next for Jared Goff?
When Jared Goff was with the Rams, the thought was that he needed to be in the perfect situation to succeed. He needed the top-5 offensive line, the top-10 defense, the top-10 talent at the skill positions, and to be in the perfect system. The Lions have a middle of the road offensive line. Detroit is losing most likely, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. This is a team that had the 32nd ranked defense last season. The only thing Goff has going for him out of the gates in Anthony Lynn as a play-caller.
However, this could all change after the draft. The Lions currently have the seventh overall pick. With quarterbacks likely to dominate the top-5, there is a good chance that Detroit could have the opportunity to draft a receiver like J’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith.
That immediately gives Goff a top wide receiver to pair with T.J. Hockenson. Goff also has his best running back from a talent perspective since Todd Gurley with De’Andre Swift.
Jared Goff is going to have to do a lot more. He’s not going to have Sean McVay there holding his hand. He’s going to have to do a lot more of the carrying in Detroit. However, the pieces could be there for him to do it.
What’s will the Rams do in the draft and free agency?
Trading Jared Goff has opened up the cap space and makes it so that the quarterback position doesn’t need to be a priority. The Rams will have a chance to bring back Leonard Floyd and John Johnson III (although unlikely) and will put an emphasis on an edge rusher and deep threat wide receiver. So, who are some names that the Rams could target?
At edge, the Rams would have to look at Jadeveon Clowney and Romeo Okwara. Clowney had his least productive season since his rookie year and therefore could come cheap. Okwara on the other hand is coming off of a career season in Detroit. He just put up double-digit sacks for the first time in his career.
In the draft, Quincy Roche and Patrick Jones who just played in the Senior Bowl are options as well as Hamilcar Rashad Jr. These are all players the Rams can target on day two of the NFL Draft.
One other name that might be worth considering his JJ Watt. Watt has most likely played his last snap with the Houston Texans. It would be tough for Watt to fit under the cap for the Rams, but him on the same defensive line as Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers is pretty enticing.
At wide receiver, the Rams will be looking for a deep threat. You can’t bring in a quarterback that excels at throwing it deep and not bring in a player that fits that skillset. Marvin Jones has shown interest in coming to Los Angeles. Last season Tyreek Hill had 20 receptions of 20 yards or more. Jones was right behind him with 19. Jones may not seem like your typical vertical threat, but it is something that he can do.
Will Fuller has a history with injuries, but he’s someone the Rams might be able to bring in for the right price. John Ross is also a potential cheap option. Ross has experience in a McVay-like system, playing under Zac Taylor. Ross was on pace for 1,000 yards in 2019 before getting hurt.
Two other options that might be worth exploring are Nelson Agholor and Corey Davis. Agholor has become one of the best deep threats in the NFL and is only 27 years old. He played at USC and could want to come back to the Los Angeles area. Corey Davis has never lived up to his potential in Tennessee. What makes Davis interesting is that he’s a player that the Titans picked with one of the draft selections that they received in the Jared Goff trade from the Rams.