The Rams seem to be pondering the possibility of life without quarterback Jared Goff, the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. However, the contract the Rams gave Goff in 2019 makes that much harder.
A trade would trigger a cap charge of only $22.2 million, which is manageable. The problem for the Rams will be finding a team that willingly takes on his contract, which carries $43.325 million in fully-guaranteed payments due in 2021 and 2022.
Who would take on that kind of an obligation for Goff at this point? What has he done over the last two years to make anyone stand up and say, “That’s our guy.”
If the Rams had simply resisted the temptation to sign Goff to a contract with a new-money average of $33.5 million per year, they’d be able to wipe the slate clean this year, letting him walk away as a free agent, with no cap consequences of any kind.
Spin the clock back to June 2019, when some (mainly, me) were saying that the Rams should tell Goff to pound salt or sand (I never know which one is right) regarding a new contract after three NFL seasons, and possibly after five. Fred Roggin of NBC’s L.A. affiliate scoffed at my Goff position, presenting a question to coach Sean McVay like this: “I don’t know how often you check online and care what the pundits say. One suggested that, you know, the thing about Jared Goff is there will be a point in time when you’re just going to get rid of him because you’re gonna bring somebody in here who’s younger who will be your kind of guy. Now to me I thought that was insane . . . because you’ve developed him into one of the top quarterbacks in the game.”
In hindsight, it was insane to pay Goff $33.5 million per year. It was insane to hitch the wagon to Goff for, as a practical matter, four more seasons. And it would be insane for another team, with so many options at quarterback, to trade for a contract that entails a fully-guaranteed commitment of $43.25 million over the next two years.
Indeed, the Rams may have to pay part of the money due to Goff in order to unload the contract at this point. The contract that they never should have given to him.
Cutting him becomes out of the question for the Rams, since much of the guaranteed money isn’t subject to offset language. Since they’re paying him either way, the best approach for the Rams could be to find a better starter and make him a ridiculously overpaid backup, instead of just a ridiculously and grossly overpaid starter.