The Los Angeles Rams' acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford may actually help the team's long-term salary-cap situation more than holding on to Jared Goff's contract would have over the next few year.
Los Angeles sent Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions in order to land Stafford, but their contracts are strikingly similar.
The Rams' total cap for 2021 now sits at $216.9 million, according to Spotrac—fourth-highest in the NFL behind the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. Detroit's 2021 payroll remains about league average at $184.9 million, 17th-highest in the league.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, by shedding the remainder of Stafford's contract (two years, $43 million), the Lions will hold $17.8 million in dead cap next season. Conversely, the Rams will take on a $22.2 million dead-cap hit by sending Goff and the remaining four years, $106.6 million left on his deal to Detroit.
Goff has $43 million guaranteed still to come as part of that deal: $25 million in base salary, a $2.5 million roster bonus in March and $15.5 million roster bonus next March.
Yet that still didn't make Goff the highest-paid player on the L.A. roster.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald will earn $27.9 million in 2021, while cornerback Jalen Ramsey will collect $22.5 million.
Stafford is now the third-highest-paid Rams player at $20 million in 2021.
Los Angeles clearly sees this as a vital maneuver to keep its Super Bowl window open.
Goff's declining performance left the Rams with the 13th-best passing offense in 2020 (250.6 yards per game) and the seventh-fewest touchdown passes thrown (20).
With L.A. looking to make a run in the NFC West, that had to change. It certainly has with Stafford now in the fold.