This past Saturday, it was announced that the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions would be trading their first-overall pick quarterbacks, Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford, respectively. In that trade, the Lions also would acquire first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 as well as a third-round pick for 2022. Obviously, this is a huge shifting of the guard for both teams as they will move on from franchise quarterbacks to a new face under center, one for a playoff push and another to rebuild around.
Although this transaction cannot be official until the offseason officially kicks off in the middle of March, one question does hang on everyone’s mind: who won? In this edition of Point/Counterpoint, campus correspondents Evan Rodriguez and Cole Stefan will debate over who really won this huge trade.
Cole: Let me summarize this trade in two words for fans everywhere. Highway Robbery. The reason being is that there just has not been as much consistency as there used to be with Stafford, and the haul in return seems hefty. This past season, Stafford posted his first 4,000 yard season since 2017 and played every game for the first time since 2018. Although impressively decent this year, is Stafford really worth two first round picks if he might be past his prime? The third-round pick I can see, but two firsts for a 32-year-old quarterback? Surprising to say the least. I understand the Rams are willing to go all-in if they want to win another Super Bowl title — look at their strong defense — but getting Stafford, a veteran currently with no playoff wins? I am not sure if this is the right move the Rams could make to get a quarterback that can contest against other elite quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson and Tom Brady, among others. In addition, Stafford has had a lot of injury problems from wrist to back injuries, and only time will tell if Stafford’s injuries are going to hurt him. These injuries could also prove if Stafford might be past his prime, and if they are, then the Rams are in trouble offensively until they can draft in the first round again.
Evan: As stated before, Matthew Stafford had a great year this past season and the Rams are truly banking on that. If I’m the Rams with all this talent, I would go for a quarterback who could truly make use of all the weapons on this team. Goff simply wasn’t doing that for Los Angeles. With Stafford, he can now prove himself on a team that truly cares about him and will surround him with a great defense headlined by Aaron Donald and some great receivers in Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Stafford is in the most optimal conditions in Los Angeles and if he’s able to do just as well or even better than his years in Detroit, he’s proving to everyone that the Rams made the right trade. While there were other great quarterbacks on the market such as Deshaun Watson, the trade package would have been a bit too much for Los Angeles, who are in a win now mode and are unwilling to part with any valuable pieces on the team. Stafford is a great pickup for what they gave up and I truly believe that this makes them a competitor in a tough NFC conference.
Cole: In addition to the haul that was given up to get Stafford in their efforts to win now, I also want to look at what the Lions will be doing in terms of rebuilding again. It is indeed true that Stafford made household names out of Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and most importantly, Calvin Johnson. Goff kind of did the same thing to Kupp and Woods this previous season. Perhaps this is where Goff takes that next step in his game and proves why he was worthy of the first overall pick. Goff will also likely pass the ball more often (12th in passing yards in 2020) than he did in LA due to the Lions’ running game being just okay (25th in yards per rush), whether it is De’Andre Swift or veteran Adrian Peterson as well as the decent number of receiving options he has. Plus, Goff can continue to develop his skills under new head coach Dan Campbell and new OC Anthony Lynn. But more importantly, the Lions now have plenty of draft picks (five in the first round the next three years) to supplement their talent and hope that they can find consistent success. This could also be like the Laremy Tunsil trade in Houston that eventually led to the Dolphins (who nearly made the playoffs at 10-6) getting the third overall pick after the Texans decided to go all-in for the 2019 season. This is a huge risk here that will backfire on the Rams if everything goes wrong. Somehow, just watch the Lions nearly make the playoffs in a few seasons.
Evan: While the Lions truly did need the picks as they are in rebuild mode, Matthew Stafford is much more valuable to the Rams in this scenario. The Rams are still very successful, as they made the Super Bowl just two years ago in 2019. It’s clear that Stafford will help reinvigorate an offense that was only 19th in the league in touchdowns per game, but first in fewest yards allowed per game on the defensive end. Even with the few offensive weapons that Stafford was given in Detroit, the Lions were still able to perform better than Los Angeles. Goff just wasn’t the right fit on that team and I strongly believe he may not be the right fit as a starter in Detroit either. Looking at Stafford, while we know he will make use of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, he will definitely appreciate rushing weapons in Malcom Brown or Cam Akers this year. It’s sure to be an interesting year watching Stafford dominate in a new role in Los Angeles.