It’s not very often that a trade in the NFL works out for both teams. You don’t have to look much further than past trades with the Rams. In 2019, they traded two first round picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Jalen Ramsey. While Ramsey’s level has fallen off these season, he was a first-team all-pro in 2020 and 2021. In return, the Jaguars selected K’Lavon Chaisson and Travis Etienne.
It's hard to argue that the Rams didn't end up on the better end of that deal. In 2012, the Rams traded the second overall pick to Washington to give them the opportunity to draft Robert Griffin III. While Washington made the playoffs in RGIII’s rookie season, the only notable player that the Rams selected with the draft haul was Michael Brockers.
Trades typically end up pretty one-sided or not working out as planned for either team. The exception to this could be a more recent blockbuster trade between the Rams and Detroit Lions prior to the 2021 season.
In that trade, the Rams received Matthew Stafford in exchange for Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and a third-rounder. Taking a look at the trade almost two years later and it’s hard to say that both teams haven’t benefited.
In March of 2021, the @Lions traded Stafford to the Rams for two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Jared Goff.— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) December 12, 2022
@PSchrags says it could end up being the rare NFL blockbuster trade that worked out for both teams.
"Goff has risen like a phoenix this season." pic.twitter.com/xFeK2CUvnH
Both teams were in different places at the time of the trade. The Rams were a quarterback away from taking that next step and being a championship contender. Meanwhile, it didn’t make sense for the Lions to tear everything down again with a 34-year old quarterback.
The Rams accelerated the development of the quarterback position by trading for an elite arm and processor in Matthew Stafford. With the help of Stafford, the Rams won the NFC West, defeated the San Francisco 49ers for the first time in three years in the NFC Championship Game, and then won the Super Bowl.
It’s hard to say that the Rams win the Super Bowl without Stafford. His throw in the NFC Divisional Round to Cooper Kupp will go down in Rams history as well as his game-winning drive in the Super Bowl. That drive of course included the no-look pass to Kupp.
Those are throws that Goff wouldn’t have been able to make in those moments and why the Rams traded for Stafford.
On the flip side, the Lions needed a complete rebuild with a new head coach and new general manager in Brad Holmes. With Holmes’ Rams connection, Les Snead was able to move Goff to a front office that knew what he could bring to the table.
As Goff helped turn the Rams around after a 4-12 season in 2016, he has helped turn the Lions around. His 0.148 EPA per play this season ranks ninth in the NFL and has helped put the Lions in the middle of the NFC Wild Card race.
Additionally, the Lions were able to get picks to help revive their roster. The Lions traded the 32nd overall pick last year to Minnesota Vikings to trade up and select wide receiver Jameson Williams.
The Lions have been able to accumulate young talent while also getting a quarterback who has shown that he can succeed at the NFL level with the right talent around him. The Lions have been able to do just that. Goff is playing the Lions out of a top-10 pick and in-range of a rookie quarterback and into playoff contention.
Even still, the Lions might still end up with a top-10 pick given how the Rams are playing this season which is something they likely didn’t predict when they made the trade. For the first time in a long time, the Lions are a fun team to watch and seem to be on the right path.
There are some that might say that the Lions have won the trade because the Rams are bad this year. On the flip side, others might say that the Rams won the trade no matter what because they hoisted the Lombardi. However, both things can be true. It’s very possible in this case that both teams won the trade which is exactly what should happen.
On the Rams side, they got their Super Bowl ring and accomplished exactly what they set out to do when they made the trade for Stafford. Some analysts might ask, “what if the Rams didn't win the Super Bowl last season?” However, they did. It was a risk, but it was one that paid off.
Jared Goff is a better QB than Matthew Stafford right now, younger, healthier, cheaper, and the Lions will get a Top 5 pick from the Rams in the 2023 draft. The Rams winning the Super Bowl was an all-time example of the results working out on a fundamentally bad trade.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) December 7, 2022
The Lions meanwhile have been able to acquire young talent and may have their franchise quarterback whether that’s Goff or a rookie in the 2023 NFL Draft which is exactly what they would have wanted when they made the trade.
It doesn’t happen often, but the Matthew Stafford trade between the Rams and Lions seems to have worked out exactly as planned for both teams and that’s a good thing.