By: Jared Clifton (Twitter: @unstuckintime82)
Goff Season: A Look at Five Possible Trade Suitors for Jared Goff
Coming off a 10-6 Wild Card season, where the Rams also went into Seattle and knocked off the NFC’s #3 seed quite convincingly, it stands to reason that the Rams will persist with Jared Goff for at least another season. However, it was painfully obvious at times that Goff was among the weaker links for an otherwise well rounded LA squad. With the NFC West looking like it will be among the toughest divisions in football over the next few seasons, it has to be on the mind of Sean McVay and team owner Stan Kroenke, that perhaps Goff could be a hindrance to a team built to win now.
There is no feasible out to the contract until after the 2022 season, so that option makes the likelihood of any imminent QB change in LA minimal, but there is a small window for a pre-June 1st trade, that would allow the cap savings of $12,425,000, to provide a reasonable offset to the $22,200,000 dead cap hit it would take to move him. This is complicated by the very real potential for a reduction of the NFL salary cap by an estimated $22 million year over year, due to financial constraints and budget shortfalls due to the truncated allowance of in-stadium fans this season.
With this reduction of salary cap and the Rams not owning their 2021 first round pick, after trading it to the Jaguars for Jalen Ramsey, there is a looming question of franchise direction, if they stay the course with Goff. His massive post-June 1st dead cap that is north of $65 million and any further regression from him, will be damning to a team that does not have the immediate draft capital to add a high probability difference maker, nor the cap space to bring in elite level free agents without significant restructuring or making difficult cut/trade decisions on Tyler Higbee, Andrew Whitworth and/or Michael Brockers.
A trade that nets valuable draft picks and also alleviates nearly $68 million in future cap room for a team that is currently $32 million over the cap , would be a net positive for a quarterback that is just at replacement level over the past few seasons. It is one of the more complicated transactional situations for any NFL team this season, but let’s take a look at five possible trade partners, if this does get any traction prior to June 1st.
Quick one for you. What do you get when you put Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco and Drew Lock together? 27 wins and a half decade of AFC West futility.
For John Elway to have most of the pieces put together for a winning formula, but constantly lack the signal caller is a lesson in irony. Easily one of the all-time greats; Elway should know the position far better than any person putting together personnel in the league today. However, his post-resurgent Manning QBs have been among the worst in the league year in and year out.
While Goff is no world beater, he would be installed as an immediate upgrade and could even double as a wake up call and competitive push to the talented, but wholly underdeveloped Drew Lock. It’s not a given that the Broncos will give up on Lock, but he hasn’t been a reliable cog in an otherwise solid team foundation. His True Passer Rating (70.1) and Total QBR (49.2) ranked at or below the cut-off line for starting QBs last season and even with a clean pocket, his completion percentage was a dismal 35th in the NFL.
Goff has regressed markedly each season, since a two year run of above average stats, but his metrics have not necessarily declined the same as those counting stats. Some of that can be attributed to the NFL catching up to Sean McVay’s offense and Goff having to be much more of a creator, than a creation of an offense that constantly provided open looks. That’s not been Goff’s strong suit and the Pat Shurmur led Broncos offense, with a whole suite of dangerous weapons in Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler and Noah Fant, would provide a nice reset and predictability to a QB that too often looked lost over the past few seasons.
With a positive cap situation and fairly simple cut candidates in Jeff Driskel, Nick Vannett and Jurrell Casey, the Broncos will have the means and should have the motivation to be able to move Day 2 picks for a conservative bet on a former #1 overall signal caller.
New England Patriots
So, Cam Newton wasn’t the correct muse for Bill Belichick’s first post-Brady season. It was a worthwhile gamble and even had moments of brilliance pre-COVID for a Newton led offense, but at the end of the day, all should expect Belichick to look for a more conventional QB room. At still just 26 years old, Goff would represent a somewhat established veteran QB that could allow for another window of success in Foxborough, as Belichick winds down his brilliant career. It is less likely that Belichick has the time or inclination to groom a rookie QB this close to the end.
There is obviously some familiarity for the Patriots to Goff, as they masterfully shut him and the entire Rams offense down in Super Bowl LIII and faced him as recently as Week 15 of the 2020 season. Even though Jared Goff does have his glaring faults, Bill Belichick has employed Josh McDaniels to mitigate deficiencies in the Pats offense and it becomes an easier task with a prototypical passer like Goff, over the enigmatic Cam Newton.
With New England having the fifth oldest roster in the league and presumably all of their COVID related holdouts back next season, a small window could be back open to compete in the AFC and a plug and play option like Goff, shouldn’t cost the future to try it on for size. It’s perfectly suited to the wily, yet sometimes risky personnel decisions the Patriot’s have nailed so often in years past.
Washington Football Team
A surprise NFC East championship for the Football Team, due in large part to a number of spectacular young players that contributed this season, is somewhat muted by a lack of clarity on the quarterback position going forward. With former first round pick, Dwayne Haskins, jettisoned after off the field issues surfaced late in the season and the future of comeback darling Alex Smith in limbo, it becomes important for Ron Rivera to find a steadying force at the position. Taylor Heinicke wowed fans in the playoffs, but he is still a vastly unknown commodity with a track record much more suited for a backup spot.
2021 becomes an important year to gauge exactly what the Rivera lad Football Team can be and to prove that the progress, made from a three win team with a -169 point differential to a seven win team with a +6 point differential, actually has staying power. Elevating the quarterback room with Jared Goff, would fit the functional piece of Scott Turner’s offense, which is largely derived from his father, Norv Turner’s hybrid Air Coryell scheme.
As mentioned previously, Goff has been most successful when utilizing his skillset in a timing and rhythm scheme and the Coryell/Turner scheme has produced tremendous efficiency from it’s QBs in the same manner. With a strong inside running game installed in year one and dynamic pass catchers in Terry McLaurin and TE/H-Back Logan Thomas, the fit is there for Goff to come in and have immediate success. While he has struggled the past few seasons on his Deep Ball Completion % (30th in 2019 and 2020), he has excelled at times in mid-range throws and throws that incorporate TEs and RBs. On paper, at least, it looks like one of the purer fits for both parties.
With the expected news of Philip Rivers retirement from football, it is now a near certainty that Frank Reich will be on the lookout for his fourth starting QB in as many seasons at the helm of the Colts. The Colts are another team that are built for the now and while they have former starting QB, Jacoby Brisset, and 2020 4th Round Pick, Jacob Eason, on the roster, the revolving door at such an important position must be addressed.
With the second best cap room in the NFL, they will be in one of the best situations to address this in the offseason. While the expectation is that a reunion with Reich and his former Eagle QB, Carson Wentz, makes a lot of sense, there remains a more complicated dead money situation for the Eagles to even consider this as a necessary move. Even with a fun four game audition for Jalen Hurts, they went 1-3 during that span. That leads me to believe that the Eagles will likely run it back in 2021 and a QB competition is much more likely than a coronation of Hurts as the starter.
That leaves Jared Goff as a reasonable facsimile to Wentz and would work much the same in the Reich-led offense with quality orchestrators in OC Nick Sirianni and QB coach Marcus Brady. This trio has done a fantastic job of keeping QBs off their backs and putting their signal callers in a position to succeed with minimal turnover risk. Coupled with one of the best lines in football and enough playmakers in the backfield and outside, this reset for Goff may be the one that could produce the most fruit, straight out of the gate.
When the best quarterback in franchise history is Jay Cutler (sorry Sid Luckman), then it isn’t as difficult to get excited for a QB that other teams might hem and haw over. The combination of 2nd overall pick, Mitch Trubisky, and Super Bowl legend, Nick Foles, just haven’t provided enough playmaking potential to get the Bears over the 8-8 hump the past few seasons. A Wild Card team nonetheless, it was an offense in the bottom third of the league that kept the Bears from being considered a legitimate contender in 2020.
With Matt Nagy relinquishing the offensive play calling duties to Bill Lazor late in the season, there was a marked improvement in Points Per Game, from 19 to just over 27 in the final five games of the season. While Trubisky did shine during that period, his services may be priced too high for Chicago to buy back into a player that they declined to pick up a fifth year option on. The risk of making yet another poor decision at the QB position, would be quite problematic when they have some serious off-season questions surrounding their offensive line and WR corp.
Goff would provide an upgrade to Trubisky or Foles, but the question that begs the price tag is by how much? While fans clamor for a Deshaun Watson re-do, the fact is that the Bears likely don’t have the draft collateral to outbid more draft flush suitors, such as the Dolphins. Goff would be a nice consolation prize, albeit one that many diehards would still have difficulty warming up to, but it would not be wholly unlike the change of scenery deal that moved Cutler to The Windy City 12 offseasons ago.