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 what is the first exchange of former No. 1 overall picks in the common draft era (since 1967). The deal cannot be made official until the start of the new league year on March 17.
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, for whom he was the director of college scouting. That was Holmes’ role when the Rams traded up from the No. 15 selection to take Goff first overall in the 2016 NFL draft, making a splash in their return to L.A. after 21 seasons in St. Louis. The Rams will not make another first-round selection until at least 2024.
A source told ESPN the Lions had interest from seven or eight teams offering first-round picks as compensation for Stafford. Though the deal for Goff won’t necessarily preclude the Lions from taking a quarterback in this year’s draft, Goff told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington on Saturday night he spoke with Dan Campbell and that the new Lions coach made clear through his message Goff is in Detroit’s plans for the future.
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, 32, 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.
Stafford is No. 4 all time in passing yards per game (273.4), behind Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck. He also is second all time behind Luck in attempts per game (37.7) and is 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 many 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 proximal interphalangeal joint 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 following Detroit’s 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.
Stafford already has friends and a place to stay on the West Coast: He owns an estate in Newport Coast, southeast of Los Angeles in Orange County, and he is a childhood friend and former high school teammate of longtime Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Although the Rams didn’t confirm the trade, their official Twitter account tweeted at Kershaw, asking him: “Have you heard from an old friend today?”
Stafford has won just five of 16 matchups against his new division opponents in the NFC West. Goff, meanwhile, has won four of six against the NFC North.
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 that Super Bowl, as the Rams fell from a top-scoring team to an average unit over 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.
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