With Stafford Trade, Rams Actually Make Ryan Pace Look Fiscally Conservative.

Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk comments on the inclusion of Jared Goff in the Rams trade for Matthew Stafford. The Rams also sent a 2021 third round draft pick along with first rounders in 2022 and 2023 to the Lions:

Initial reactions are emerging regarding the trade that will, as of March 17, send quarterback Matthew Stafford from the Lions to the Rams for quarterback Jared Goff, a pair of first-round picks, and a third-round pick. As one executive with a team not connected to the trade opined late Saturday night, the move “reeks of desperation” by the Rams.

The Lions didn’t get two ones and a three for Stafford. They got two ones and a three for Stafford plus taking on Goff’s contract. Basically, the Lions got extra for Stafford by taking Goff, who has $43.25 million in fully-guaranteed payments over the next two years, much of which has no offset attached to it. The Lions, despite any other offers they may have received for Stafford, got two ones and a three only because they took a terrible contract off the Rams’ books.

From the Rams’ perspective, it’s not a gamble as much as it is an effort to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. They paid Goff when they shouldn’t have paid him. And so, to unload a player in whom they invested two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a third-round pick in a 2016 trade with the Titans for the right to draft Goff, the Rams gave up another two first-round picks and a third-round pick, and they acquired Stafford.

I read that last paragraph and my jaw dropped for the truth of it. The Rams basically gave up four first round picks and a host of other picks for a 33 year old Matt Stafford.

All told between this trade, the Goff trade and trades for Jalen Ramsey and Brandin Cooks, the Rams will have been without first round picks since 2016 and will be without them until 2024. That’s seven years without a first round pick.

And you thought the Bears wasted draft capital. The Rams trade away picks like they’re going out of style.

Everyone who follows football knows that players acquired in the NFL draft are the life blood of every franchise. The only way to keep up with the salary cap is to keep bringing in younger, cheaper talent. If you are constantly trading for or signing veteran players like the Bears do, you eventually find yourself up against it with some tough choices in terms of extending older players that you’d rather not extend to push money off into future years to create room. Eventually, with no younger players in the pipeline, you simply have to let the older, big contracts go and eat the cap space.

Looked at in isolation, the price that the Rams paid for Stafford seemed a bit steep but considering that the first round picks are both in future years, I didn’t think it was totally out of line. But seen in the big picture, this is just one piece of a puzzle that, when put together, gives us a picture of total franchise mismanagement.

It is possible that the Lions are simply going to use those picks to trade up to get a quarterback this year. But if they keep them, this trade tells a different story.

By taking more picks in future years, you could argue that the Lions may be thinking that the Rams are a franchise on the brink of a collapse. The more they lose in 2021 and 2022, the better those first round picks are. The Rams play the NFC North and the AFC South next year which doesn’t seem to add up to an overly difficult schedule and they have talent, especially on defense. But the NFC West is a competitive division and most of that talent will be a year older with one less year on their contracts. You never know.

It might not happen in 2021 but eventually this may very well all fall apart on Rams GM Les Snead. Surely the bill for all of these veteran players he’s accumulating for draft picks comes due. At that point, the Rams may find themselves so far over the cap that they have to dismantle the franchise to get under it. And when it does, with picks where they are essentially betting against the Rams future, the Lions may be the primary beneficiaries.

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