By Sean Chase
On Jan. 30, Matthew Stafford’s time in Detroit came to an end, as the Lions announced a trade to send Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff and multiple draft picks.
The trade comes just a week after news broke that Stafford was unhappy with the direction of the Lions and wanted to be traded. Stafford, 32, was the Lions’ first overall draft pick in 2009. A pick the team earned after finishing the 2008 season with a record of 0-16.
After he was hired from the Rams in January, Brad Holmes’ first move as the general manager for the team was a historic one, as it is the first swap of former No. 1 overall picks since 1967. The Lions will receive a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick, along with Goff, who was the first overall draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. However, the trade cannot be made official until March 17, when the new NFL league year begins.
Stafford’s impact on the franchise can be seen in the Lions record books as he leaves the all-time leader in passing yards with 45,109, passing touchdowns with 282 and interceptions with 144.
Goff’s relationship with the Rams coaching staff, especially head coach Sean McVay has slowly deteriorated since they reached the Super Bowl in 2019. After a subpar performance against the Green Bay Packers in the National Football Conference Championship, in which Goff threw for 174 yards and a touchdown, McVay made a statement to reporters that showed a split with the quarterback was nearing.
“Yeah, he’s our quarterback, right now,” said McVay, to ESPN.
After five seasons with the Rams, Goff leaves with a record of 42-27 and back-to-back division titles. However, after signing a four-year extension worth $134 million, $110 million of which is fully guaranteed, Goff can’t identify where the division between him and McVay started.
“That’s the tough part right now is trying to figure that out, when did that happen?” said Goff, to the Los Angeles Times. “Those are all conversations that I may or may not have, and try to figure it out. That’s the conversation to have.”
While Goff still has some conversations that need tying up, he is excited for a fresh start in Detroit. After speaking with Holmes, Goff had a new outlook on the trade.
“This is how it’s supposed to feel,” said Goff, to the LA Times. “This makes me feel great, how excited they were, how fired up they were. As time has gone on over the last few days, and even the end of that night, it becomes a positive and you start to feel really good about yourself again. You start to feel, I don’t want to say relief is the word, but you start to feel happy, grateful, ready for a new opportunity. That’s the biggest feeling that I was overcome with that night, and even in the days following.”
Though Goff is leaving Los Angeles, He will continue his efforts to help the people in the city of Inglewood, a place that he felt as if had become his home.
“One thing I said to them this year is, ‘this isn’t a one-year thing. This isn’t just right now. This isn’t a PR move. I’m going to be here a long time, and I’m going to be with you guys a long time,’” said Goff. “Unfortunately, obviously, things changed quickly. But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving them, or no longer involved in their community or helping those children out of tough situations and raising them up. That will continue.”
Even though the departure from the team that drafted him is hard for Goff, he has expressed enthusiasm about what he brings to the Lions.
“Of course you go back and forth, and your emotions go all over the place. But for the most part, it’s been this feeling of gratefulness for what I was able to do here and accomplish in L.A., and at the same time excitement for the city I’m coming to, the city I’m going to bring a whole lot of passion to, and a whole lot of hopefully success for a long time.”
The Lions and Rams front offices have yet to comment on the historic trade, however, the Rams did take to Twitter to ask Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw if he had heard from an old friend today, as Stafford and Kershaw were high school friends in Texas.
While it is too early to say who is the winner in the trade, both teams will face off against each other one time this season when the Lions head to SoFi stadium.