New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday that trade talks involving longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford were “hot and heavy.”
He wasn’t lying, apparently.
Stafford will be traded to the Los Angeles Rams for a massive return that includes former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on Saturday night. They requested anonymity because the deal had not been announced publicly.
In addition to Goff, the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Rams are set to send the Lions their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 as well as their third-round pick in the upcoming draft, according to NFL Network.
The trade ends Stafford’s 12-season tenure in Detroit, which saw him set a litany of Lions records. Stafford, the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, had approached the Lions after the season, suggesting a trade might be in the best interest for both parties.
Goff, 26, heads to Detroit after an up-and-down tenure in Los Angeles. He posted a 42-27 career record and helped guide the Rams to three playoff appearances after he was taken with the top pick in 2016. The high-water mark of his time in L.A. was the 2018 season, when he posted a career-high 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns as the Rams went 13-3 and reached Super Bowl 53.
He signed a four-year extension in September 2019, but the past two seasons Goff proved to be inconsistent and at times mistake-prone, throwing 42 touchdowns to 29 interceptions. The Rams fell in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers this past season as Goff battled through a thumb injury.
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The decision to bring in Stafford, 32, at a high price is yet another sign of the Rams’ desire to win now. Incredibly, the Rams have not made a first-round pick since they selected Goff atop the 2016 draft and now aren’t set to be on the clock on Day 1 until 2024. (Their 2021 first is in the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars as part of the Jalen Ramsey trade.)
While the Rams hope Stafford gets the team over the hump, it should at least be noted that Stafford himself has never won a playoff game. He went 0-3, all road wild-card losses, in the playoffs with Detroit.
However, the Lions’ shortcomings don’t fall entirely on Stafford. He became the fastest player to amass 40,000 passing yards in league history in 2019 and leaves Detroit as the Lions’ all-time leader in attempts (6,224), completions (3,898), yards (45,109) and touchdowns (282).
With a new coach in Campbell, a new GM in Brad Holmes – who came to Detroit from the Rams – and now without their longtime star QB, the Lions appear set for a rebuild.
Contributing: Detroit Free Press