The Los Angeles Rams shocked the football world on Tuesday when they agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension that will keep Jared Goff with the team through the 2024 season. The extension is worth $134M and includes an NFL-record $110M guaranteed.
This might be a surprise to some, but not for Goff or the Rams.
After a disastrous 2016 rookie season under head coach Jeff Fisher in which Goff went 0-7 and looked like a clear bust, the quarterback out of California has turned his career around.
With a new coach in Sean McVay in 2017, Goff helped lead the Rams to their first double-digit win season in 14 years. The second-year quarterback led the Rams to their first NFC West title in 13 years, their first winning season in 14 years, and just last year he took the Rams to their first Super Bowl in 17 years.
Before Goff, the Rams were a bottom of the barrel franchise in the NFL, a laughing stock. The Rams won six games from 2007-2009, which at the time was the worst three year stretch for any NFL franchise. That was finally surpassed when the Browns went 4-44 from 2015-2017.
With Goff under center, the Rams have gone from laughing stock to NFC West favorite for a third straight season for the first time since 1979.
The thing with Goff? He always bounces back. He never lets the worst of moments get to him. It’s one reason why the Rams drafted him. This was a quarterback that started his career at Cal 1-11 and 0-9 in the Pac-12. By the time Goff graduated after the 2015 season, the Bears went 8-5 and won a bowl game, their most successful season since 2008.
Goff’s NFL story has been much like his college story. After going 0-7 to start his career, many were calling for general manager Les Snead to be fired for not taking Carson Wentz who went to the Eagles at No. 2 or even Dak Prescott who was drafted in the fourth round.
Next, we’re going to play a game. I’m going to list quarterback stats: Player A and Player B. One will be Dak Prescott, and the other will be another quarterback(s).
Player A: 11 games: 2,004 yards, 8 Touchdowns, 11 Interceptions
Player B: 11 games: 2,262, 11 Touchdowns, 18 Interceptions
Player A: 13 games: 2,396 yards, 10 Touchdowns, 11 Interceptions
Player B: 13 games: 2,326 yards, 11 Touchdowns, 12 Interceptions
Player A is Dak Prescott over the 13 game stretch of Week 7 of 2017 to Week 3 of 2018 and Player B is Brock Osweiler in his last 13 games, ending on September 23.
Player A: 7 games, 1,089 Yards, 5 Touchdowns, 7 Interceptions
Player B: 7 games, 1,330 Yards, 6 Touchdowns, 9 Interceptions
Player A is, of course, Jared Goff in the first seven games of his career (final seven games of the 2016 season) and Player B is Dak Prescott over the last seven games of the 2017 season.
Those are pretty similar stats. See how narratives can change?
It’s so important for rookie quarterbacks to play and find success right away. That’s most apparent right now with Josh Rosen. However, instead of trading Goff after the 2016 season and drafting DeShaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, or Patrick Mahomes, the Rams trusted the front office.
When it comes to Goff, everybody remembers his rookie season and the Super Bowl. Nobody brings up the games in between, the 54-51 come from behind win to defeat the Chiefs in arguably the greatest regular-season game of all-time, or the fact that Goff brought the Rams back from 10-points down to beat the Saints in the NFC Championship Game on the road.
Of the top 100 single-game passer ratings from 2018 (min. 20 attempts), Goff was responsible for 7 of them which trailed only Mahomes (9). Goff’s 8,492 yards in years two and three are fourth-most all-time behind Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, and Andrew Luck. He ranks fifth all-time in touchdown passes (60) among quarterbacks who started more than 30 games, his 19 interceptions are the second-fewest, he ranks fifth in yards-per-attempt (8.18), his 100.8 passer rating ranks sixth, and his 24 wins rank third.
Instead, the narrative is that the Rams are limiting their long-term ceiling by extending Goff or that the Rams shouldn’t extend Goff and attempt to draft another quarterback to pay on a rookie salary.
However, if the Rams didn’t pay Goff, it would have been someone else like it was the Minnesota Vikings who paid Kirk Cousins instead of the Washington Redskins. If you have your franchise quarterback, wouldn’t you rather pay him than go on a search for another one?
Finding a franchise quarterback isn’t like finding a running back or linebacker. A general manager can’t go dumpster diving every offseason and hope to find another person’s treasure.
Teams go searching for a franchise quarterback for decades. From 1999-2019, the Browns started 29 quarterbacks until they finally landed on Baker Mayfield. Since Dan Marino‘s final season in 1999, the Miami Dolphins have started 19 different quafterbacks with the longest tenured being Jay Fiedler, Ryan Tannehill, and Matt Moore. Since 2000, the Chicago Bears have started 23 different quarterbacks.
Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees, and it’s even harder to draft a good one. The Rams drafted Sam Bradford first overall in 2008, and he had more ACL tears than playoff appearances.
The last quarterback that the Rams drafted that went on to have any form of success for the team was Vince Ferragamo in 1977. The gap between Ferragamo in 1977 and Goff in 2016 is 39 years.
The Rams drafted Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2005 and Doug Flutie in 1985. However, Fitzpatrick was nothing more than a backup and Flutie went to the USFL before being traded to the Bears in 1986. Tony Banks was drafted in the second round in 1996 and went 14-29.
Drafting the right quarterback is extremely difficult, and the Rams almost got it wrong with Goff had they not fired Fisher.
The past three quarterback classes have been fantastic as they’ve included Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Trubisky, Mahomes, Watson, and then, of course, the 2016 class of Goff, Wentz, and Prescott.
However, history suggests those years are an anomoly rather than the norm. Look no further than 2011 (Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder), 2012 (Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler), 2013 (EJ Manuel, Geno Smith), and 2015 (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota).
Goff is 24 years old and heads into his third season under McVay. As of right now, he’s in the 9-15 range in quarterbacks in the NFL, but when it comes to contracts teams don’t only pay for what a player has done, but also what they project them to do.
The earlier teams sign their quarterback, the better. Today’s ridiculous deal is tomorrow’s below-market deal. Yes, the Rams will have to make tough decisions on the roster. A significant one will be Robert Woods whose contract expires in two years. That’s doesn’t mention cornerback Marcus Peters after this season either.
However, what that doesn’t mention either is the potential increased salary cap of $262M. According to Spotrac the Rams have the 13th most cap space in the NFL in 2021 and that also doesn’t include a larger increase in a new CBA.
The Rams will get criticized for giving their quarterback $110M in guaranteed money, but similarly, when the team made Sean McVay the youngest head coach in the NFL and stuck with Goff following 2016, they will prove it on the field. The Rams begin their 2019 campaign on Sunday on the road against the Carolina Panthers.