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Rams weren’t smart to extend Matthew Stafford when they did

Jalen Hurts’ monster extension is further evidence of that

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In the offseason following a fairy tale first season with the Los Angeles Rams, Matthew Stafford was retained on a four-year, $160 million extension. At the time, the move was an easy one after Stafford had led LA on a Super Bowl run for the ages.

The transaction is appearing to be more and more of a bargain now that Jalen Hurts has become the highest-paid player in league history...until Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert inevitably surpasses him.

When Stafford signed his extension, he was just one of six quarterbacks with an annual average value of at least $40 million. That number has grown to nine players with the two young guns I had previously mentioned certain to join that club.

Monetarily, the Rams made the correct choice with re-signing Matthew Stafford. LA’s business deal looks relatively cheap compared to the guys who secured the bag after Stafford. My issue with the extension lies more on the performance side of things which has been a glaring problem for a number of signal callers on that list.

Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and possibly Dak Prescott (on a good day) are obviously the exception here. However, most of the highest-paid club have declined the year after signing their extensions. Aaron Rodgers went from back-to-back MVPs to throwing his most interceptions in a single season since 2008. Russell Wilson reverted into a moldy Dangerwich in Denver. Kyler Murray flunked his homework, tore his ACL and failed to improve upon a strong third season. Deshaun Watson is Lord Voldemort and he shall not be mentioned here.

The jury is out on Hurts and Daniel Jones who also signed a mega-extension this offseason. I’ll bet everything in my bank account Jones reverts back to his old habits in ‘23. Los Angeles was rightfully high on Stafford after he tossed 41 touchdowns and won multiple playoff games for the first time in his career. His second season was a nightmare as he missed the final eight games to injury and just didn’t have the same heroics as the year prior.

I won’t penalize Stafford for having a bad O-line in front of him. Where I will fault him is tossing bad interceptions at the worst possible times. Given his gunslinger mentality, he’s always had a knack for throwing to the opposing team. Stafford tied for the league-lead with 17 picks during his first year in LA and was well on his way in year two.

There was always a nagging worry that Matt’s contract might reach the same fate as other failed deals in LA. Fellow TST writer JB Scott posed that same question in early March. It’s a fair point to consider as Todd Gurley was out within a year of signing his. Brandin Cooks and Jared Goff were out after two years. The likelihood of Stafford playing out the length of his deal with the Rams is very low.

The odds for most QBs playing out their new deals is next to nothing. Again, that has been a theme for a few of the highest-paid quarterbacks. Wilson is rumored to be on a short leash with new head coach Sean Payton. Rodgers has intentions of playing for the Jets, further screwing over the Packers and their overarching commitment to him. Even Kyler is the subject of trade rumors now that he’s playing for a new regime that has zero ties to him.

We already know about the trade rumors that have circulated around Stafford. Give it another year and those rumors will come to fruition. I’ll also bet the farm on that. If LA goes quarterback either this draft or next, the writing that has long been on the wall since his extension will be clear as day.

Financially, the Rams were smart to get a jump on the quarterback market. On the field, the move wasn’t ideal as Stafford regressed and the team has gradually become a shell of itself. For the investment to pay off, Stafford has to play at his 2021 peak. Although I doubt he’ll be granted enough time for that to happen. LA’s front office hasn’t demonstrated the patience to wait out megadeals the second a player starts to decline or has a rough campaign.

It won’t be long until the Matthew Stafford extension is seen as less of a bargain and more like another mistake for the front office to get rid of.