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Disrespected and underrated, why is Jared Goff viewed as an afterthought instead of an NFL star?

Jared Goff
Credit: Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports

When you’re the No. 1 overall pick as Jared Goff was back in 2016, the expectation is that you’ll become a franchise player and one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has to offer within a few years. Considering Goff brought the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl in just his third season, it’s hard to suggest he didn’t have a major impact on their early success.

Then, in 2019, the Rams couldn’t even make it to the playoffs. While Goff got back to the postseason in 2020, being eliminated in the Divisional Round left a bad feeling in L.A.

Suddenly, the team that made him the No. 1 overall pick turned their back on Goff, with Sean McVay seemingly preferring an aging but capable Matthew Stafford over the young cornerstone he helped coach for four seasons. This swift move seemed to completely alter the perception of Goff, and the manner of which he was traded likely didn’t help.

Related: NFL QB Rankings 2024: Where does Jared Goff rank?

Jared Goff went from No. 1 pick to placeholder, to Detroit Lions savior

jared goff
Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

When Jared Goff was traded to the Detroit Lions, Coach McVay picked Matthew Stafford over the QB Los Angeles traded up to select five years prior. But the Rams also included two first-round picks, in part to rid themselves of the $134 million contract they signed Goff to two years before the trade, but also to make up for the difference in value or talent when compared to a 33-year-old Stafford.

At the time, the move was viewed as a win-now trade for the Rams, who were eager to get back to the Super Bowl. In Stafford’s first season, he delivered that Super Bowl ring Rams fans had been waiting for since 1999.

But the Lions? Most saw the Goff trade as a long-term move for Detroit, with the extra assets recovered from Los Angeles expected to help the Lions restore the roar for a franchise desperate to demand respect. Yet, many felt the Lions would only use Goff as a short-term stopgap, taking whatever he offered as a starting-caliber QB until his contract expires at the end of the 2024 season while hunting feverishly for a franchise solution.

The Lions did draft a quarterback, Hendon Hooker, in the third round, but it’s safe to say Goff has solved the Lions’ QB woes by winning over a Lions team that struggled to win three games his first season in Motown. But then Dan Campbell and Goff found a spark at the end of the 2022 season, leading the Lions to nine wins and his first Pro Bowl appearance since 2018, and everything changed.

Now, we’re seeing Goff perform as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, helping the Lions lead the fifth-highest-scoring offense in the league. But no one in Detroit cares about the stats; what they’re rooting for is wins, and Goff has done that too, bringing the Lions to their first NFC Championship appearance since 1991, only there’s a sense that this team may not be done yet.

As to being viewed as a star QB with the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow? Goff still has a ways to go, but his production this season has at least placed Goff in the next tier of top quarterbacks, one that includes Matthew Stafford, and if Goff can get a ring, his reputation may even someday surpass the QB the Rams once viewed as a better player.

Related: Jared Goff vs Brock Purdy: Comparing the 2 star quarterbacks heading into NFC Championship Game

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