A Key To The Rams Offseason Success Is Now In Place
One of the Los Angeles Rams top priorities this offseason was to extend Matthew Stafford. This was known when they traded for him just over a year ago. Stafford’s previous contract was set to expire after the 2022 season. Meaning the Rams didn’t want him to reach free agency, thereby allowing other teams to bid up his price. Also, his cap hit was about to jump from $20 million to $23 million. In the Rams team build, every million matters.
Saturday the team announced it had scratched that priority off its to-do list. The Rams have agreed to terms with Stafford for a four-year extension worth $160 million, with $135 million guaranteed. While on paper the contract is for four years, it’s effectively a three-year/ $129 million deal.
For what it’s worth this gives Stafford a bump in the average per year earnings among quarterbacks. He goes from 13th highest paid QB to fifth. That’s a good bump and certainly one that makes sense considering he led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory in his first year on the team. And it appears to be one of the sanest high-profile quarterback signings this offseason.
The Browns made Deshaun Watson the second-highest paid quarterback despite 22 allegations of sexual misconduct. The Green Bay Packers decided to give $50 million per year to the second oldest quarterback in the league. One whose last Super Bowl appearance was well over a decade ago. It isn’t an argument that Aaron Rodgers isn’t a great quarterback, but this contract doesn’t ensure Rodger’s will get another shot at a Lombardi. For comparison, Tom Brady makes $25 million per year (come to your own conclusions with that evidence).
The point is that Stafford (who has as many Super Bowl wins as Rodgers) comparatively took a reasonable amount of money. It’s an amount that pays him commensurate with other top-tier quarterbacks but also doesn’t stop the Rams from building a winning team.
And according to a team source, reported by Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic, “Stafford’s 2022 cap number will shrink.” This wasn’t just important to the team, but it was also important to Stafford himself. Ms. Rodrigue also speculated that Stafford “left money on the table” to help the teams build this offseason. Ian Rappoport also tweeted that Stafford took less money for that purpose.
Stafford has apparently learned a valuable lesson from playing in Detroit; winning is fun. And he wants to win some more. Stafford’s effect on the salary cap won’t always be so team-friendly. At some point, the money will get paid, but this extension gives Stafford and the Rams a chance to capitalize on the position the team is currently in this season.
The Rams are in the driver’s seat in the NFC. Not many teams in the conference have gotten significantly better so far this offseason and in particular, the NFC West has taken a step back. The Rams are actively improving and in a position to strike while the iron is hot.
Stafford has entered into the back half of his prime years. While there has been plenty of evidence that modern quarterbacks can play well into their late thirties, there are no guarantees. So the next few years are the strike point for the Rams and this contract got them one step closer.
Details will continue to come out, but what we do know is that the Rams are one step closer to running it back.