It is nearly unheard of for a competing NFL team to trade their young franchise quarterback, but the Los Angeles Rams should at least consider the possibility with Jared Goff.
In a recent podcast, Matt Williamson pondered the merits of the Los Angeles Rams trading quarterback Jared Goff, making me want to explore that idea more and whether an actual case could be made over it happening.
The overwhelming advantage teams have when they field a competent quarterback on a rookie deal has been noted by many, which is the quarterback position doesn’t require $25-$35 million per year.
Instead, the player on the rookie deal makes far less, as Goff’s cap hit is $8.8 million this season, leaving room to add lots of veteran free agent pieces to round out the rest of the team.
This creates a special window for a team to “go for it” by trying to win it all when they have this cap space. In fact, in six of the last seven years, there has been a team in the Super Bowl with their quarterback on a rookie deal (and considering the New England Patriots have been in the game four times during that span makes it all the more noteworthy).
Technically, the year after that in 2016, Cam Newton was on the last year of his rookie deal and had signed an extension, but his cap number was only $13 million that year, with the much larger cap hits coming the years after.
2017 is the outlier in this time frame (Tom Brady vs Matt Ryan), followed by the Philadelphia Eagles (who had a quarterback in Carson Wentz on a rookie deal, but won the Super Bowl with former backup Nick Foles, who only made $4 million that year).
The most recent example is the Rams, who played in Super Bowl 53, and have taken advantage of the salary cap flexibility afforded by Goff’s rookie deal.
They were able to lock up Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, and Brandin Cooks to long term deals. It has also allowed them to bring in expensive players like Ndamukong Suh, Andrew Whitworth, Aqib Talib, and others.
Sure, the Rams would have been able to do some of that with a top 12 NFL contract on the books, but certainly not all of it.
So what if the Rams could extend that window?
What if, at the end of this season, the Rams traded Goff for a first and second round pick (fairly modest compensation for a franchise quarterback with the fifth-year option still limiting his salary)?
What if Los Angeles went with either a cheap journeyman free agent quarterback (like Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgwater? Better yet, what about the possibility of even drafting a young rookie quarterback that McVay can develop?
Would you prefer to have Goff at $35 million per year or the cap room to add multiple talented free agents and extra draft picks to go along with a journeyman or youngster?
If there was ever a team that trusted scheme, coaching, and internal talent development, and might make having an elite quarterback less important, wouldn’t it be the Rams?
Do you trust McVay to do that? It is not the “safe” route, and it probably will not happen, but you have to admit, the thought of a Goff trade with all these factors is certainly worth considering.