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Rams rumors: LA to have open Jared Goff, John Wolford QB competition?

Oct 26, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) reacts against the Chicago Bears during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams aren’t publicly committing to Jared Goff as their starting quarterback in 2021, and if the recent buzz coming out of LA is anything to go by, there’s a chance John Wolford could supplant the former No. 1 overall pick atop the depth chart.

Goff has regressed in the two seasons since guiding the Rams to the Super Bowl, which is putting his job security in serious jeopardy.

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Rams rumors: Jared Goff, John Wolford to compete for QB job in camp

According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Goff’s standing as the Rams’ franchise quarterback is shaky at best:

Despite guiding Los Angeles to a 10-6 record and the playoffs for the third time in four years, it’s obvious Goff is falling out of favor within the organization.

For his part, Wolford got the starting nod in Week 17’s victory over Arizona and on Super Wild Card Weekend while Goff nursed a thumb injury. Although Wolford got knocked out of the postseason contest early in the first quarter, he showed enough playmaking ability with his legs (six carries, 56 yards) to bring a new twist to the Rams’ offense.

But there are other dual-threat options LA could pursue in the offseason who boast a superior skill set to the formerly undrafted Wolford. The fact that there’s an open quarterback competition being buzzed about in the media is more of a damning indictment on Goff than anything else.

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Rams rumors: Forecasting Jared Goff’s bleak NFL future

Rams rumors: Forecasting Jared Goff's bleak NFL future
Jan 16, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) reacts against Green Bay Packers during the NFC Divisional Round at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Firstly, if Goff can’t beat out Wolford in a straight-up camp battle, that doesn’t bode well for his chances at an opportunity to start somewhere else. Nerves and a lack of experience no doubt played a part in Wolford’s scattershot accuracy, as he completed just 25 of 44 passes in his limited action down the stretch, but no one’s going to mistake him for a high-end NFL passer at this point.

The fact that Wednesday’s news about Goff’s uncertain future isn’t exactly surprising is telling, though.

Rams head coach Sean McVay is lauded as one of the brightest offensive minds in football. He builds his system around the run game, which sets up play-action passes, simplified reads and is very QB-friendly. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson provide Goff with plenty of talent, as do pass-catching tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee.

Oh, and thanks to the genius of departed defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, LA had the NFL’s No. 1 defense this past season. With all that as the backdrop, Goff still failed to play at even an above-average level.

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Just about every element was in place to help Goff succeed in 2020. However, he managed only a 90.0 passer rating with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He panics whenever the pocket isn’t perfectly clean, and isn’t athletic enough to extend plays with his feet.

The only reason Wolford is being floated as Goff’s chief competition at this point is because general manager Les Snead has some salary cap gymnastics to pull off before trading Goff or bringing in an established, superior veteran at the position is tenable. Los Angeles is projected to be more than $27 million over the cap in 2021.

If the Rams officially trade Goff on or after June 1, they can spread the dead money from his overpriced contract out over multiple seasons, the team that gets him can take on money, and they’d save more than $28 million, per Over the Cap.

Alternatively, Goff could restructure his contract to help facilitate a trade and save the Rams lots of cap, but it’s unclear whether he’d do that given the current circumstances.

It stands to reason if Goff can’t even play at a league-average standard under McVay’s very straightforward scheme, with premium weapons and a phenomenal defense to back him, that he doesn’t have much of a shot at starting anywhere else.