Goff. Stafford. Rams. Lions. Who won the trade game?

No Jared Goff. No Super Bowl. Time to go. The Los Angeles Rams decided to make a move to turn the page from the five-year quarterback. His replacement? A weathered and battered but stall sharp Matthew Stafford. This was not just a straight-up trade. The Lions got an immediate starter in Goff, two first-round draft picks, and a third-rounder. Hmm.

Was this some kind of secret heist or ransom request? The Rams paid a hefty price to get Stafford.

The debate of which team got the best deal will be up for debate for at least a couple of seasons. What is for certain is that the Rams, after giving Goff a four-year, $134 million contract extension in 2019, got to a point where they didn’t think the former Cal star was going to be that guy to lead them to another Super Bowl run.

Jared Goff (16) is no longer a member of the Los Angeles Rams after being reportedly traded to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. Photo credit: Los Angeles Rams

After all, Goff, after throwing for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns during the regular season in 2018, took the Rams to the Super Bowl where they eventually lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The 13-3 defeat to the Patriots was not a good look for Goff or the Rams offensive unit. Some would speculate that neither Goff nor the Rams offense ever recovered from that disastrous performance.

Sure, the numbers Goff put up the following season (4,638 yards, 22 touchdowns) and in 2020 (3,952 yards, 20 touchdowns) show that he was effective. What was missing, however, was that mojo Goff had up until his Super Bowl meltdown.

And so, when Goff and the Rams got booted out of the postseason by the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional playoff game, reporters hit up Rams coach Sean McVay and asked him about Goff’s future with the team.

“What I’m evaluating is everything that we do, that includes the quarterback position, but that includes everything,” McVay said in a Zoom call with reporters. “So that’s where we’re at. I think it’s important like I was kind of saying, to be able to take a step back, catch our breath, be able to look at everything that the season encompassed and figure out the best way to create the most competitive situations at all spots and what we can do to continue to take steps in the right direction. That’s not exclusive to the quarterback, but it’s all encompassing to our entire roster.”

You had the feeling something was brewing when McVay sidestepped a question on whether or not if there was a chance that Goff would not be on the team’s roster for the NFL’s 2021 season.

“Like I said, we’re in a situation that we’re in evaluation mode,” McVay said during that Jan. 17 presser. “All those things are things that we’re moving forward, we’re looking forward. I can’t answer any of those questions until, like I said, I take a step back and evaluate everything that is in the best interest of the Rams.”

Well, that evaluation came rather quickly. The Rams hurried up and got Goff out of town in the trade to the Lions, first reported by ESPN. Trades can’t be approved until the start of the league’s new year, which is March 17 in this case. This could be a surprising move considering that Goff has more playoff appearances (5) than Stafford (3) and has won more games (2-0).

Bolstered by the league’s top-ranked defense in 2020, Goff has a better overall win-loss record (42-27) compared to Stafford (74-90-1). For Barry Sanders, one of the greatest running backs in the history of the NFL and a Detroit Lions legend, the multiple picks the organization will get in exchange for Stafford will soften the blow of losing the 12-year quarterback.

“We’ve got a lot for him that’s for sure,” Sanders told the NFL Network. “That should help. We’re really starting over in a lot of ways, but he’s meant so much for the franchise. He really carried us in a lot of ways. So, it’ll be strange not having him out there. You know, we really are starting a new chapter in Lions football not having Matthew Stafford out there.

“But they’re getting a difference-maker and a real playmaker-the Rams are,” Sanders added. “So, you look at what they’ve been able to accomplish in the last few years…they were in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, in the playoffs this year. So, he should add in nicely to what they’ve been doing.”

Under Goff, the Rams didn’t do too bad in the passing game last season, coming in at No. 13 out of 32 teams. The Lions, with Stafford running the show, ended up at No. 10. With these two quarterbacks, it seems that it’s a matter of semantics in trying to decide which one is better.

The difference is like measuring apples and oranges. Both are pocket-style quarterbacks with little range to move the chains on the ground, though Stafford is more adept at doing so than Goff. So now the Rams have made their bed with Stafford. Good, bad or indifferent, McVay and Los Angeles will now have to live with the results.

As for Goff, he’s just appreciative of the fact that he may be valued more with the Lions.

“I’m just excited to be somewhere that I know wants me and appreciates me,” Goff told Mike Silver of the NFL Network. It must be nice.

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