The Los Angeles Rams traded former wide receiver Van Jefferson to the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday for a swap of late round 2025 picks. While Jefferson never put up the stat lines or seasons to warrant his 2nd round selection in 2020, he was a team player with big moments in the 2021 Super Bowl season, like catching Matthew Stafford’s first touchdown as a Ram.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Stafford spoke about his former wide receiver and his feeling about parting ways. The Rams QB had a longer relationship with Jefferson than most on the team, knowing Van since he was a kid, as his father, Shawn Jefferson, was a coach in Detroit from 2007-2012 when Stafford was the Lions quarterback.
“I’ve known Van since he was a kid with his dad being a receivers coach in Detroit when I was there. He was around a bunch of training camps, followed his career for a long time, loved getting to work with him.”
Stafford continued, saying that they had “spent so much time together” so it’s always hard to lose a friend on the team. However, after 15 years of experience in the NFL, Stafford understands that, unfortunately, it’s a business first sometimes and that the team is prepared for roster moves.
“We’re kind of trained to move on,” Stafford said. “It’s part of the business that I’m sure the outside world doesn’t grasp, but for us we understand it is part of it. It’s not an easy part of it, but it is something that we deal with.”
In typical Rams fashion, it seems like a lot of the reason they traded Jefferson was to do right by their player, something they have done in the past with the likes of Robert Woods and even Jalen Ramsey. Sean McVay touched on the this in his press conference saying:
“There was partly a consideration for the person too. You do have to make decisions that are best for the team, but based on you know some of the things that we felt like were possible down the road and looking out for him and for us that was just what we felt like was the best decision. You know a huge part of it was trying to be considerate to a really special person.”
With Van Jefferson heading into free agency this year, it seems as though McVay and the Rams wanted to give him more of an opportunity to show what he can do on the field, something he was not going to get with LA’s wide receiver group that includes Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek, all of whom were ahead of Jefferson on the depth chart by the time of his trade. Stafford echoed this as well, and mentioned that he hopes Jefferson “gets to play a bunch” in Atlanta.
“Nobody’s more excited for somebody else to score than Van,” Stafford said. “He’s always the first guy to congratulate people. We all love it when he makes big plays for us. He’s just a fun guy to be around with the energy that he has. He’s just a guy that you ask him to do something, he does it, full speed, a hundred percent. He’s a talented football player and I wish him nothing but the best. I texted him and I’m always pulling for him and his family, who are a bunch of good people that have been positive influences and had great impacts on my life.”