Have the Rams already won the Matthew Stafford trade?
By Robert Jones
The Detroit Lions, like the rest of the NFL, will be home watching Matthew Stafford in the Super Bowl. Does that mean the Rams unequivocally won the trade?
The Detroit Lions set out on a new course just over a year ago when general manager Brad Holmes was hired, and Dan Campbell was hired as head coach.
With a rebuild set to launch, Holmes granted quarterback Matthew Stafford his wish to be elsewhere, ultimately sending him to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and three draft picks (two first-rounders).
The easy initial reaction was the Rams had given up too much for the former Lions quarterback. With Detroit heading down the rebuilding path, it was the kind of trade that could aid Holmes’ efforts to build a contender.
The belief Detroit won the Stafford trade gained momentum when Holmes assembled a very respectable first draft class as the foundation on which he and Campbell can build. The 2021 rookie class as a whole contributed a lot.
Have the Rams won the Matthew Stafford trade?
The tide has now turned. Stafford and the Rams made a playoff run all the way to Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Rams win, then that will full cement their victory over the Lions in the trade. They raised expectations by making the deal, as they continue to be all-in and have no regard for first-round picks, and can pay those expectations off all the way.
The 2021 season was already a running commentary of the media pitying Stafford for surviving a dozen brutal years with the inept Lions. That commentary picked up in the postseason.
Is there any way the Lions can save face? Is there any way they can make a push to make the trade a win for both teams?
For tangible proof the Lions can make the deal a win for themselves, the two first-round picks acquired from the Rams need to turn into players who contribute to making them a contender.
The Rams have gotten what they wanted, with no less than a Super Bowl appearance in Stafford’s first season. He is under contract through the 2022 season (2023 is a void year), so talk of an extension is sure to ramp up shortly.
For the Lions, time will tell. The Stafford trade was a long-term play, or at least a move made with an eye beyond the end of his current contract as he got a little older and the overall formula wasn’t working.
It certainly seems the Rams have won the Stafford trade already, and the Lions have no chance to redeem their portion of that. But let’s circle back in about five years (or less), see how things played out from here to then and where the two franchises are. Then a clear winner of the trade may be able to be declared, or it could be declared a win for both teams.