Once vaunted for their refusal to rebuild, the Rams are in teardown mode entering the 2023 NFL offseason. Big-name starters like Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Floyd have reportedly already been shopped on the trade market. Now quarterback Matthew Stafford may be among the potential casualties. Just a year after giving Stafford a $160 million contract extension following their Super Bowl run, Los Angeles has been calling teams about dealing the QB, according to NFL reporter Michael Lombardi.
"Matt Stafford is fully available," Lombardi said on "The Pat McAfee Show" Thursday. "They would love to trade [him]. They can't [easily] do it, because he's got $57 million guaranteed. [But] they're trying to get out from it. [They've] called teams, I know this."
While that may be the scuttlebutt surrounding Stafford in league circles, that's not the public stance of the Rams. During his pre-free agency press conference on Thursday, general manager Les Snead said that the team is "going to definitely rely on" Stafford, who he added is "one of our pillars."
"To me in a rebuild you would just bulldoze the house down, and again rebuilding from the ground up," said Snead, via NFL.com. "But when you have someone like Matthew Stafford, players like Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, there's some weight-bearing walls there that we still have, and we're going to rely on those -- don't want to put pressure on them -- and then at point remodel around them with maybe different teammates, different partners. And then even ask some of the players who've been here to keep evolving and going in that direction, so it'll be interesting.
Officially, Stafford's four-year, $160M extension includes $63M guaranteed, per Over the Cap. The Rams would actually absorb a net loss of $54M by trading Stafford before June 1. If they were to deal the QB after June 1, however, they'd instantly save $1.5M, as well as tens of millions from 2023-2026. That's discounting the possibility of another team taking on large portions of Stafford's guaranteed money, or renegotiating the contract entirely.
A prized acquisition for Sean McVay and the Rams ahead of the 2021 season, Stafford arrived from the Lions as part of a blockbuster trade package including two first-round draft picks. He threw a career-high 41 touchdowns while guiding L.A. to a Super Bowl LVI victory. But injuries wrecked his offensive line, his supporting cast -- and then his own health -- throughout 2022, in which he played just nine games and downplayed speculation of an early retirement.
Fully healthy, Stafford remains an above-average starter. But he also entered 2022 with questions about an injured elbow, and his contract would require clearing the aforementioned hurdles. So, whether that report is to be believed or not, it's unlikely he'd have a serious trade market until deep into the summer, provided there are still teams desperate for a proven starter.