Jared Goff contract foreshadows Rams' brewing Matthew Stafford problem

NFC Wild Card Playoffs, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford
NFC Wild Card Playoffs, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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The LA Rams may not exactly be painted into a corner over any contract with veteran QB Matthew Stafford. But storm clouds are brewing on the horizon, and they have a lot of rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning that could spell trouble for the team in the near future.

Ah yes, money matters in the NFL are never an easy topic. To fans, it's easy to rage against the team that is reluctant to sign a blank check for a player. It's simple to spend someone else's money. But in the NFL, everything comes with some form of tradeoff. Money spent on one player cannot be spent on other players. A roster spot filled by one player cannot be re-filled by another player.

Those multiple layers of trade offs apply to the football field as well. One football cannot be passed to multiple receivers on the same play. Offensive and defensive snaps can only be assigned to one player per position. Sometimes less is more. What that means is that not every player needs to be an All-Pro level to be a vital contributor for a Super Bowl season. The best contributors are those who block, tackle, or even run decoys for the playmakers. And then there is the field general role. For the LA Rams, he is veteran QB Matthew Stafford. On defense, he is veteran ILB Ernest Jones.

Stafford wants money and guarantees beyond 2024

Right now, the LA Rams front office is trying to walk the tightwire of fiscal agility and responsibility while trying to meet the demands and expectations of veteran QB Matthew Stafford. It's simple. Stafford put up Pro Bowl numbers for only the second time in his NFL career, and the first time since 2014. It makes sense that the 36-year-old quarterback wants to leverage his apex season for the Rams into financial security with the Rams going forward.

But it's not an easy fix. The LA Rams have to weigh how much money the team invests into the quarterback position, and how to best balance the optimal value for the team. Stafford has been an ironman throughout his 15-season NFL career. But that has begun to take a toll on his availability. Of 51 regular season games played by the Rams since trading for Stafford, he has suited up for 41 games. Yes, one game was a coach's decision in Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season. But a run rate of showing up 80 percent of the time cannot be glossed over. And therein lies the rub.