Rams trade Jared Goff to Lions for Matthew Stafford in swap of quarterbacks

Quarterback Jared Goff (16) waits to pass for the Rams during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff Jan. 16, 2021.
Quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NFL draft, looks to pass for the Rams during their 32-18 divisional-round playoff loss at Green Bay on Jan. 16.
(Matt Ludtke / Associated Press)

Jared Goff was once the centerpiece of the Rams’ franchise.

The quarterback was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and the team made bold, flashy moves to surround him with stars and build a Super Bowl team in 2018.

But the Goff era ended Saturday.

Five years after they traded up a record 14 spots to draft him, the Rams traded Goff to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford, a person with knowledge of the situation said.


As part of the deal, the Rams also sent the Lions a third-round pick this year and two future first-round picks, said the person who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the deal.

The Rams’ decision to trade Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford is a big gamble, but the team had virtually no other option.

Jan. 30, 2021

Stafford, who turns 33 next Sunday, was the first pick in the 2009 draft. He was voted to the Pro Bowl once in 12 seasons and is 0-3 in playoff games. Other than receiver Calvin Johnson, however, Stafford, has never played with a surplus of talent.

Stafford has passed for 45,109 yards and 282 touchdowns with 144 interceptions. This season, he passed for 4,084 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

Stafford has two years remaining on his contract and had salary-cap numbers of $33 million in 2021 and $26 million in 2022, according to Stafford and Lions ownership reportedly had agreed to pursue trading him.

New Lions general manager Brad Holmes knows Goff well. Holmes, hired a few weeks ago, was the Rams’ director of college scouting for the last eight seasons.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass in December 2020 against the Tennessee Titans.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 4,084 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions this past season with the Detroit Lions.
(Wade Payne / Associated Press)

Goff, 26, finished his Rams career with 42-27 record as a starter. He passed for 18,171 yards and 107 touchdowns with 55 interceptions. He was 3-3 in playoff games.

During Goff’s first news conference in 2016, former coach Jeff Fisher introduced the former California star Goff as “our franchise quarterback,” and general manager Les Snead said Goff gave the Rams “long-term stability.”

Long-term turned out to be five seasons.

Goff was 0-7 as a starter his rookie season under Fisher’s staff, but he developed into a two-time Pro Bowl selection under coach Sean McVay, leading the Rams to three playoff appearances in four seasons and a Super Bowl LIII berth.

It appeared as if Goff and McVay would be tied together for years to come.

“As long as I’m fortunate enough to be in this role, hopefully this guy is stuck with me for a long time,” McVay said a few months before the Rams awarded Goff with a $134-million extension that included $110 million in guarantees.

Since then, Goff’s production has fallen.

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May 2, 2009

He passed for a career-low 20 touchdowns this season with 13 interceptions. Goff struggled in a Nov. 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins, losing two fumbles and having two passes intercepted. Three games later, he had two passes intercepted and lost a fumble in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. After the game, McVay broke from his usual practice of blaming himself for players’ mistakes and called out Goff publicly for the first time.

“Our quarterback’s got to take better care of the football,” McVay said.

Goff started the next four games but suffered a broken right thumb against the Seattle Seahawks in the second-to-last game of the season. He underwent thumb surgery the next day and sat out the finale against the Arizona Cardinals. But the following week, despite Goff saying he was capable of playing, McVay again started backup John Wolford in an NFC wild-card game against the Seahawks.


After Wolford suffered a first-quarter neck injury, Goff came off the bench and helped lead the Rams to victory. Goff started the divisional-round game against the Green Bay Packers and passed for a touchdown in the 32-18 season-ending defeat.

After the game, McVay said Goff was the Rams’ quarterback “right now,” putting Goff’s future with the team in doubt. Just over a week later, Snead said Goff was the Rams’ quarterback “in this moment,” indicating the team was ready to move on.

The only mystery was how they would do it.

Cutting Goff would have cost the Rams $65.2 million in dead-cap money, according to Even for a team that cut star running back Todd Gurley and was willing to absorb a record hit when they cut receiver Brandin Cooks last March, the cost of releasing Goff was too much.

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Jan. 29, 2021

By trading Goff, the Rams will incur a $22.2-million dead-cap hit. And by including the draft picks, they essentially paid the Lions to take him off their hands.

The Rams have not had a first-round pick since they selected Goff, Snead sending them to other teams in trades for players such as Cooks and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

They do not have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, and now they will not have one for the foreseeable future, a trend that began when the Rams made their historic move for Goff.