With over 52,000 career passing yards and a Super Bowl ring under his belt, Matthew Stafford still has something to prove in his NFL career. There had been speculation swirling about a possible retirement after 2022, considering the myriad of health issues he faced this season. However, it has been his wife Kelly’s openness about concussion fears that made a possible retirement at least feel possible.
But one of the league’s premier gunslingers will be back in 2023.
Matthew Stafford Confirms His Return
On Dec. 13, Kelly told listeners on her podcast that Matthew wasn’t ready to give the game up yet. And on her Dec. 20 episode, we heard it directly from the horse’s mouth. The Los Angeles Rams QB wasn’t necessarily defiant in his answer about retirement, but there seemed to be absolute confidence in his voice about his decision to play in 2023.
The 34-year-old still has four years left on his current deal, and an early retirement would crush the Rams’ ability to build a team over the next few seasons with dead cap hits of $49.5 million, $36 million, and $24 million in the next three years. And it’s not as if Stafford’s hit a physical wall the way someone such as Matt Ryan has.
But that doesn’t necessarily make him healthy, either.
Matthew Stafford’s Tumultuous Season
The season started with an elbow injury stemming back to last season and ended with a spinal contusion.
Kelly has been outspoken about head injuries on her podcast. She’d been emotional talking about the topic as Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa went through concussion protocol twice in a three-week period. However, he was only diagnosed with a concussion once.
So naturally, retirement became a topic, and seemingly a possibility, because Stafford went through an eerily similar situation, being concussed on Nov. 6 and re-entering concussion protocol on Nov. 20 with his spinal contusion.
But Stafford will return in 2023 for the Rams, and by the way he answered Kelly’s question on the most recent podcast episode, it sounds like that was always going to be the plan.
Stafford’s Extensive Injury History
Stafford is an absolute warrior. He’s separated his shoulder, dislocated his kneecap, broken his tailbone, dislocated, torn, and broken fingers, and now has bruised his spine during his 14-year career. That extensive injury history also played into the speculation surrounding his employment status going forward.
The Rams must find a way to retool their offensive line if they want to rekindle the success they found in 2021. Stafford has never shied away from taking hits throughout his career, and he won’t magically become a careful passer in 2023. But that playmaking ability made him the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and it’s the reason Los Angeles traded away Jared Goff.
The Rams owe it to Stafford to rework an offensive line they let dissolve after their Super Bowl victory.