In addition to teams like the Bears – who have obvious needs at quarterback – there are teams around the league who could seek upgrades. One of them is the Los Angeles Rams, who, as we noted in Bullets the other day, aren’t as committed to Jared Goff as you might expect for a team that offered him an extension worth more than $100 million in 2019.
And yet, I was still taken aback when I saw the Rams pop up as a possible suitor for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford:
Sources: Matthew Stafford considers the Rams a viable contender in his trade market with the Lions. While it’s unclear what the Rams can do with Jared Goff’s long-term deal on the books, they’ve explored the possibilities with Stafford.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 29, 2021
In case you missed it, Stafford and the Lions are having a mutual parting of ways, and at least one-third of the league’s teams have kicked the tires on his availability. So it’s not the interest that surprises me. It’s just that Goff’s four-year, $134 million mega-deal hasn’t even kicked in yet. And I imagine it’ll be tough to wiggle out of that contract, especially with OverTheCap.com estimating the team already being $31,159,096 above a projected salary cap of $181,674,141. Nevertheless, the Stafford fit makes sense. It’s also sensible that Stafford would want to play for a franchise that has made the playoffs three times in four seasons and has had a winning record since Sean McVay’s arrival in 2017.
Above all, though, there is one thing that trips me up in the Rams’ courtship of Stafford. Los Angeles does’t have a first-round pick this season. And considering the type of rebuild the Lions are set to embark on (again), it’s only fair to assume Detroit would hold out for a first-rounder in a Stafford deal. If the Rams make sense as a destination for Stafford despite not having a first-rounder to deal in 2021, could the Bears be in the mix because they do have one? Just a thought, even if it comes while acknowledging the Lions wouldn’t have much motivation to trade him within the division if a suitor like Los Angeles exists.
Maybe the Rams could pitch the Lions on taking on their 2022 first-round pick, together with some other lesser picks. But if the Rams are going to be better than the 10-win team they were last season, then the pick the Lions will receive figures to land as a late-20s first-rounder in 2022, which obviously would make it even less compelling. Or perhaps all of this is just an opportunity for the Rams to drive up the cost of doing business for the 49ers, a division rival that also makes sense as a possible landing spot.
In any case, the Bears should monitor this situation. They should keep tabs on the cost of making a trade, what a division rival is doing, and how conference foes who have recently made the postseason are handling business.