Could Matthew Stafford be the next Rams veteran to retire on top?

The best that the LA Rams can hope for is many more years out of veteran QB Matthew Stafford. But due diligence requires the team to have a succession in place, now . . .
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams Matthew Stafford
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams Matthew Stafford / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. If you are a fan of the LA Rams, you know exactly what that means. Since winning Super Bowl LVI, Rams fans have had to accept the retirement decision of DB Eric Weddle (re-retired in 2022), LT Andrew Whitworth (retired in 2022), and DT Aaron Donald (retired in 2024). So it's not out of the question to apply the experience of recent retirements to current sole-source stars on this team.

The most prominent star on the roster who is arguably irreplaceable is veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. And that creates a problem for this team. It's not alarmist to foresee potential problems and attempt to discuss solutions and options before the situation reaches critical mass. Some like to think so, and label those meaningful and thought-provoking articles as 'click bait'. Perhaps in their minds, any thoughtful discourse is emotionally threatening?

But discussing how the Rams can best prepare for the day that QB Matthew Stafford retires, and when the team might need to have a successor on the roster, is anything but click bait. It's not a 'sky is falling,' topic whatsoever. It's a 'how do we prevent the sky from falling' topic that should be discussed now, to avoid emotional reactions.

In 2021, there was a great deal of media attention on Rams veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth. At the time, before the 2021 NFL season had even begun, we noted the retirement vibes given off by Big Whit leading up to the 2021 NFL season. I am now getting those same retirement vibes from the media coverage of veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. And as crazy as it sounds, I believe that retirement is a serious possibility for the 36-year-old quarterback who is about to play in his 16th NFL season.

What is there left for Matthew Stafford to prove after the 2024 NFL season? He has won a Super Bowl. He is a two-time Pro Bowler. He could best the 60,000 passing yards landmark this season. He has thrown 357 touchdowns and only 180 interceptions. He has even leveled off his playoff record at 4-4.

While a Super Bowl victory in SB LIX could add to his NFL Hall of Fame candidacy, it won't make him a unanimous candidate. Supporters already appreciate his many accomplishments, while critics need more than one more great season to change their minds.

If you believe that Matthew Stafford will play well after he turns 40 years old, good for you. I hope that you are right. But don't berate those fans who believe that the depth and talent of this 2024 quarterback class warrant consideration to add to the future of this team. While some prospects may fall out of reach, not all top quarterback prospects will be too high for this team to consider adding from this draft.

Nobody guessed that DT Aaron Donald would retire in 2024. Unfortunately, the 2024 rookie class could be challenging to find enough talented young prospects to add to the team. There is a surplus of quarterback talen in the 2024 NFL Draft. Right now, the Rams have veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo on a one-year deal, and both Stetson Bennett and Dresser Winn as developmental players who could become solid NFL backups.

The Rams do not have a true successor at quarterback if Stafford decides to retire after 2024. Don't be alarmed or upset if the front office decides to address that vulnerability in this draft. It does make sense to do so in the end.