Jared Goff is not the reason the Rams lose, but isn’t Aaron Rodgers the reason that the Packers win? Isn’t Rodgers the reason that Green Bay is hosting the NFC Championship game? Isn’t Patrick Mahomes the reason that the Chiefs are hosing the AFC Championship game?
If the goal is to win the Super Bowl, should the goal be to have a quarterback who wins rather than a quarterback who doesn’t lose?
Over the course of the next few weeks, potentially months, Rams fans will be awaiting any news on what role Goff will have with the team next season. This week, Sean McVay wasn’t willing to commit to Goff as his starter for 2021. Technically he may not have committed to Aaron Donald as a starting defensive end or Jalen Ramsey as a starting cornerback or Andrew Whitworth as a starting left tackle, but those roles are much safer to assume.
Similarly, 40% of Turf Show Times readers voted “Quarterback” as LA’s number one need going into the offseason, by far the highest vote-getter, and only 22% of our readers thought that Goff should indeed be the unchallenged starter in 2021.
The problem facing Los Angeles isn’t only that they have a quarterback who “doesn’t lose” rather than one who propels his team to victories each week, or that those quarterbacks are extraordinarily difficult to find, it’s also that the Rams may lack more resources than any other team in the NFL headed into the offseason.
At least when it comes to having the ammo one usually expects to need when they want to find a franchise quarterback.
Should LA want to move forward in another direction other than Goff, then beat the odds to find a quarterback who can do better than Goff, they’ll run into some problems along the way. However, every problem should have a solution.
Whether you find it or it finds you.
The Problem: The Rams are slated to pick 57th when they finally get their chance to draft in 2021 — later than any other team’s first pick this year.
The Solution: Trading Up or Trading Picks for Players
It is true that the Rams do not have a first round pick, but they could have three third round picks thanks to compensatory selections related to Dante Fowler Jr. and new Lions general manager Brad Holmes.
By combining pick 57 with two third round picks, it is possible that the Rams could trade up to the high second round, if not the late first. Given that there will be no NFL combine this year, teams might even be happy to trade down.
But the best news for the Rams is that the 2021 quarterback class is being touted as one of the deepest in recent years. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson are being tagged as “destined” for the top-10, but Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Kyle Trask are among those who could have NFL teams imagining them as game-changing starters. Others, like Jamie Newman or Kellen Mond, could change some minds in that direction.
Just the fact that there are 3-6 potential first round quarterbacks this year is good news for the Rams. There are also a lot of teams right now who look like they could use a new quarterback, but let’s wait and see how the free agent and trade market play out first before trying to understand which other teams will “need” a quarterback.
The Problem: Jared Goff’s massive cap hit in 2021 and 2022 is not going away, even if you trade him, and the Rams could be $20 million over for next season
The Solution: LA’s money issues are probably overblown and teams tend to “find a way” because the NFL is a business well before it is a “fair game.”
If the NFL wants Deshaun Watson in the LA market, they’ll put him in the LA market. Let’s just put that out there first.
One issue with “projected 2021 salary cap” websites is that they are going off of a deal that the NFL made with the NFLPA last year to have a salary cap floor. The floor is $175 million. But the league successfully ran every game this year and it looks like they’ll run two championships and a Super Bowl too. They didn’t have fans usually, ratings were down, but I don’t foresee the floor being necessary.
The Rams should also be able to carry over their unused cap space from 2020.
LA found a way to part with Brandin Cooks despite no savings. They parted with Todd Gurley before his contract extension even kicked in. If they want to part with Goff, I’m sure they will. The money committed to him is in the past and can’t be changed, but the roster and the depth chart still can be.
In the case of Watson, it will be difficult for the Rams to get into any conversation with the Texans when so many other teams have 2021 first round picks to offer. But mid-tier trade targets could include Jimmy Garoppolo, Alex Smith, Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew, Drew Lock, and Sam Darnold.
Those names are more of a way for the Rams to “change” rather than “improve” necessarily, but it will take a unique package for LA to land Watson without a 2021 first. Especially when the Jets, Jaguars, and Dolphins each have two.
The Problem: Cap space and a lack of talent
The Solution: There’s some cap space!
I noted the cap space earlier. The only quarterback who deserves the type of attention that would command all of that space is Dak Prescott. The Cowboys will have to re-sign or franchise Prescott for the second year in a row, both of which will be expensive options and Dallas has the 10th pick in the draft.
Perhaps high enough to flirt with Fields or Wilson.
LA doesn’t have much cap space in 2021, but there’s no reason to think they can’t be “fine” in that area by 2022 and that’s likely when Prescott’s deal would first be expensive anyway. Is Prescott a fit for the Rams? Well, perhaps not, but as I said, there aren’t going to be many other free agent options who would make you believe they’re “winners.”
Philip Rivers retired on Wednesday. Mitchell Trubisky and Jameis Winston had many starts to prove themselves and didn’t. Dwayne Haskins wouldn’t get my endorsement right now as a player who is going to give any team a reason to move on from Jared Goff.
Winston may have the most upside remaining though and that could be the Rams’ best bet, if we’re only focusing on free agency.
Thankfully, the Rams don’t have to only focus on free agency. There are many areas where they could look for Goff’s competition or replacement, including in their own backyard.