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How does Jared Goff’s extension affect a future Matthew Stafford contract?

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By: Blaine Grisak

Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Jared Goff signed an extension with the Lions on Monday. How does that affect Rams deal with Matthew Stafford?

When the Los Angeles Rams signed quarterback Matthew Stafford to a contract extension back in 2022, the goal was to be fair, but team-friendly. Following a Super Bowl win, Stafford wanted to get paid what he was worth, but keep it possible for the Rams to continue building other areas of the team.

The result was Stafford signing a deal worth an average annual value (AAV) of $40M which was tied for the eighth most at the time. Since then, that has dropped down to 12th while Stafford is the fourth highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in 2024 with a cap-hit of $49.5M. The Rams front-loaded Stafford’s deal as his cap hit from last year to this year raised $29.5M according to OverTheCap.

On Monday, the Detroit Lions inked quarterback Jared Goff to a four-year deal with up to $212M with an AAV of $53M. That makes him the second highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in AAV. An average of $53M for Goff seems like a lot, but the Lions were in a spot where they almost had to pay him. He helped dig the Lions out of a franchise hole. With the window to win being right now, what else were the Lions going to do?

At the same time, there’s something to be said about paying a quarterback elite level money because you feel you have to. The New York Giants did this with Daniel Jones and it arguably has set their franchise back. This isn’t to say that Goff is the same tier or level of quarterback as Jones. However, he’s also not in the same tier as Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, and even Justin Herbert.

The Lions now have the second-highest paid quarterback, second-highest paid wide receiver, and the highest-paid right tackle. The big thing with Goff in Los Angeles was how everything needed to be perfect around him to succeed. If he didn’t have the top offensive line, could he win outside of structure? While he’s improved, I’m also not sure that still isn’t the case, especially if Ben Johnson leaves after this season. He had a good 2023, but he will now have a lot to prove with that contract.

Goff is making more on an average per year basis than Stafford. However, that’s also nothing new. The Lions quarterback had a significantly higher cap-number than Stafford in both 2022 and 2023.

Now, the question that remains is what this means for Matthew Stafford. There have been rumblings this offseason about Stafford being unhappy with his current contract structure. Per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport who said during the draft,

“Stafford is seeking an adjustment to his contract that would provide him with more guaranteed money beyond the 2024 season…Stafford has three more seasons left on his contract, but just $31 million remaining in guaranteed salary this year and none over the final two seasons, per Over the Cap. Stafford’s clearly looking for more security in his bank account before his guarantees run out.”

The big difference between Goff and Stafford is obviously the age factor. Goff is 30 while Stafford will be going into his age 36 season. It makes sense to give Goff a four-year extension. With that said, Stafford currently still has three-years left on his deal and is simply looking for more guaranteed money. It’s unlikely that the Rams add actual years on the back of Stafford’s contract at this point.

If the Rams do a new deal with Stafford, it could end up being handled and structured similarly to Aaron Donald’s deal in 2022. Instead of adding years on to the contract, the Rams simply gave Donald a $40M raise over the final three years of the existing deal.

Per ESPN’s Sarah Bishop,

“The deal, which was negotiated by agent Todd France, includes $65 million guaranteed in the first two years of the contract and is structured in such a way that Donald can either retire or return for the 2024 season for an additional $30 million guaranteed, sources told Schefter”

With Stafford also nearly retirement, the Rams could front load the deal with more guaranteed money and then leave the option in 2026 for Stafford to either retire or return in 2026. That type of deal seems like the best for both sides and is a structure that the Rams will have some familiarity with given the history with Donald. This would give Stafford more guaranteed money after playing at a high level in 2023, but also provide some flexibility heading into that 2026 season.

We’ll see what the Rams end up doing here, but they will likely try to get a deal done with their franchise quarterback sooner rather than later.