Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams are coming off a dreadful 2022 season in which they won just five games.
Stafford joined other star Rams players in being injury-plagued throughout the campaign. For a team that’s roughly 14 months removed from winning the Super Bowl, this demise was not seen coming.
Now that the Rams are headed for a season of transition, questions have come up regarding Stafford’s future in Southern California. Whispers around the NFL watercooler suggest that the Rams would like to find a way to trade the former No. 1 pick. Unfortunately, the massive contract extension he signed last offseason precludes this from happening.
With Los Angeles in full cost-cutting mode, it can’t be too happy about the fully guaranteed cash Stafford received on his contract Friday.
Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Stafford’s presence as a member of the Rams on Friday means he has received another $57 million in guarantees. His $31 million salary for the 2024 season has become fully guaranteed. That’s in addition to Stafford’s $26 million option bonus having to be picked up under the guidelines of his contract.
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Matthew Stafford contract breakdown
- Years: 4
- Total value: $160 million
- Signing bonus: $60 million
- Guaranteed at signing: $63 million
- Total guarantees: $130 million
Stafford’s mere $1.5 million base salary for the 2022 season pushed back major cap hits to future years. An example would be his $49.5 million cap hit for the 2024 campaign. Los Angeles would incur a whopping $36 million dead cap hit by moving off from him prior to that season.
The earliest this team could release or trade Stafford from a financial standpoint would be following the 2025 campaign. Said move would still come with a $24 million dead cap hit.
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Matthew Stafford contract coming home to roost
When Los Angeles signed Stafford to this massive contract back in March of 2022, it was hard to blame the team. It had just won the Super Bowl. Everything seemed to be in place for continued contention.
No one could have seen the spinal injury coming that would cost him a majority of the 2023 season. Injuries to wide receiver Cooper Kupp and stud defensive tackle Aaron Donald also played a role in the Rams’ struggles.
However, it’s how general manager Les Snead structured the deal that has to be questioned. Stafford was 34 years old at the time of the extension. Said structure made it nearly impossible for Los Angeles to move on from Stafford before the 2025 season comes to a conclusion, linking him to the Rams through his age-38 season.
- Matthew Stafford stats (2022): 68% completion, 2,087 yards, 10 TD, 8 INT, 87.4 QB rating
Outside of Stafford’s regression last season, there’s renewed concern over the Rams’ ability to compete with the juggernaut San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West moving forward.
Los Angeles dealt away All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins for pennies on the dollar recently. It was forced to release stud pass rusher Leonard Floyd in another cost-cutting move. Heck, future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner was a salary cap casualty.
All the while, the Rams are going to be paying out big bucks to an aging quarterback who is coming off a serious injury and has shown regression in recent years.
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