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Will Matthew Stafford be Rams’ QB next time they win a Super Bowl?

Les Snead is trying to open a new contention window—will Stafford be around to see it through?

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams under Les Snead and Sean McVay are one of the most volatile teams in the NFL. After leveraging draft capital and salary cap resources to their limits, LA is “re-tooling” its roster and working to pry open a new window of Super Bowl contention.

To first get there, they will likely have to take their lumps over the course of the 2023 season.

Snead and the Rams have all but called this upcoming season a “set up year” in anticipation that they will have a full stock of draft picks and nearly $60M in salary cap space. While McVay has instilled a winning culture and been as successful as any head coach other than Andy Reid since he joined the Rams in 2017, clinching a playoff berth this season is a tall order.

Los Angeles Rams v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

But lost in the shuffle of the “set up year” is the fact that the team seems willing to burn a prime year in the careers of their three star players: Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford. All three received contract extensions a year ago. Donald’s deal kept him out of retirement and effectively ties him to the team through 2025 if he wishes to continue playing. While Kupp’s 2022 season ended prematurely with an ankle injury, he still figures to be one of the most productive individuals at the receiver position—and his chemistry with Stafford plays a significant role in that.

The biggest question mark of the Rams’ big three is Stafford, who returns after multiple stints in the NFL’s concussion protocol and a season-ending spinal cord contusion.

Over the course of Stafford’s career he’s been a top 12 or so quarterback in terms of both traditional statistics and advanced metrics—does this standard change at age 35 and after the hits have piled up? The veteran could show out in 2023 and prove that he still has much left in the tank; however, as things currently sit, Stafford seems to be more of a short-term bandage than an actual long-term solution at the position.

The Rams will also be asking their signal caller to shoulder quite a load this upcoming season. Their defense has lost a great deal of talent and veteran leadership, leading just Donald as the lone star with 10 unnamed planets revolving around him. Sure, there are some promising contributors such as Cobie Durant, Michael Hoecht, and Ernest Jones, but the offense will need to score 20-30 points each week just to remain competitive. Here’s how they fared in the nine games with Stafford a year ago:

  • Week 1 vs Bills: 10 points
  • Week 2 vs Falcons: 31 points
  • Week 3 at Cardinals: 20 points
  • Week 4 at 49ers: 9 points
  • Week 5 vs Cowboys: 10 points
  • Week 6 vs Panthers: 24 points
  • Week 8 vs 49ers: 14 points
  • Week 9 at Buccaneers: 13 points
  • Week 11 at Saints: 20 points
NFL: SEP 18 Falcons at Rams Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Los Angeles is clearly hoping for positive regression in terms of injuries along the offensive line, which should help with the pass protection in front of Stafford. Cam Akers’ late-season surge a year ago will carry momentum into 2023. But even if everything breaks the Rams way, it’s difficult to see them become a high-scoring unit with respect to the Chiefs, Bengals, Bills, Jets, and Eagles of the world.

How many years does Matthew Stafford have left in the tank? Well, a large part of the answer hinges on the quality of outcomes this season—and anything less than stellar could have LA considering its alternatives.

The Rams are hoping to pry open a new Super Bowl window, but returning to contention likely means a new answer at the quarterback position. Does that mean replacing Stafford in 2024? Probably not. But by the next time they are ready to truly compete for a world championship there will be a new man under center for Los Angeles.