Will Stafford’s New Demands Handcuff Los Angeles Rams QB Succession Plans?

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Matthew Stafford‘s desire for a restructured contract became public, and the two sides of the negotiation have not publicly acknowledged any movement on a new deal. That doesn’t mean the wheels aren’t in motion, but head coach Sean McVay has towed the Los Angeles Rams company line with military precision to keep everything ‘in-house.’

In a not-insignificant way, Stafford’s request overturns an apple cart for the Rams. The end of his career is closer than it ever has been and Father Time is undefeated. Stafford’s contract was originally negotiated with this in mind. The last two years of his contract doesn’t have any salary guaranteed (Plenty in bonuses, although), which allows the Rams to move on if need be without financial responsibilities.

It seems like it goes without saying, that the Ram will have to replace him eventually, which brings to a head that they currently have no viable options to replace Stafford right now.

But the need for a succession plan will descend in the foreseeable future and perhaps suddenly upon a franchise that hasn’t had to think about it for the entirety of the McVay coaching era.

How Stafford’s New Deal Effects the Succession Plan

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His demand to renegotiate forces the Rams to commit to Stafford longer than they originally intended to.

From the team’s perspective, their biggest concern is how Stafford’s contract affects the salary cap. He currently takes up 19.3 percent of the cap. A risk when negotiating with players who may retire or are medically compelled to retire is that the team will be saddled with a cap hit from a player no longer on the team. Aaron Donald is a great example. After an early retirement, he is stil costing $25 million against the cap this season and $10 million next season.

For obvious reasons, the Rams don’t want that, chiefly because it makes replacing Stafford all the harder. And to raise the stakes, unless Stetson Bennett takes a miraculous leap forward the Rams don’t have articulated plan.

How the Los Angeles Rams Can Find The Next ONE

Finding QB in the Draft

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Even the least optimistic prognosticators have the Rams winning 8 or 9 games this season. Which eliminates drafting Stafford’s successor in the first round of the 2025 draft, barring a trade up.

The draft is the best (and cheapest) way to attempt to find a replacement. While they won’t have a high first round pick, they should be drafting quarterbacks regardless. The Rams have for the last few years prescribed to probabilistic thinking when it comes to the draft. In short, the more chances you give yourself to hit on a player, the more likely you will be in finding a great player.

This hasn’t been the case when it comes to quarterback. Even though it is the most important position in the game, they have left this up to chance. They have drafted just one quarterback since 2017, Bennett, but other teams have found success later in the first round and some in the later rounds.

The most famous version of this is Brock Purdy being taken with the last pick in the 2022 draft. But the Ravens and Packers found thier successors at the end of the first round. Jalen Hurts and Geno Smith were selected in the second round. Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins in the 4th. By and larger, NFL starting quarterbacks come from the first round, but the Rams should be (and should have) been attempting to find Stafford’s successor going back to before he was with the team.

Trading For A QB

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That leaves the Rams in a position to once again use their draft capital to trade for a quarterback, but remember, even the Stafford trade was made in particular and favorable circumstances for the Rams. He wanted out of Detroit and the Rams had the capital to make it happen.

The Rams sent QB Jared Goff, a 2021 third-round pick and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 in that trade. They have the picks to trade, but not a tradable QB.

Could another particular and favorable situation arise for the Rams? Yes, but that relies on hope. And hope, as we know, is not a strategy.

The Goff Approach

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This is the hybrid; use the draft capital to trade up and select a quarterback. The biggest downside here is that the ends may not justify the means. Not every highly drafted quarterback ends up a superstar. We’d all like to believe that the Rams are master drafters, but even their hit rate is questionable.

Although, if the newly drafted QB is a hit, he is worth every asset traded to attain him.

Tear Down and Tank It

This one is simple. Wait for Stafford’s inevitable retirement, tear the team down to the studs and go 2-15 and draft the next one. No fan will like that and it will take time, but like I said, most NFL starting quarterbacks are high first round draft picks.

Free Agency

This is a tough one. Good, young quarterbacks don’t hit free agency. They could kick the can down the road with another aging veteran, but it won’t be cheap and they will soon find themselves in a similar position soon.