Yes, the real value of the Lions' haul for Matthew Stafford was a pair of first-round picks. But don't underestimate their plans for Jared Goff.
In the immediate aftermath of the deal, it sure looks like Goff was more than a throw-in, more than a contract the Lions took from the Rams in exchange for a better return. And it sure sounds like Goff, 26, could be more than a placeholder for Detroit at quarterback.
Remember, new Lions GM Brad Holmes urged the Rams to move up the draft board to take Goff first overall in 2016, back when Holmes was the club's director of college scouting. And new Lions assistant GM Ray Agnew surely had a say in the Rams' decision to sign Goff to a four-year, $134 million extension in 2019, back when Agnew was the club's director of pro personnel.
The two guys who just brought Goff to Detroit watched him take the Rams to the Super Bowl two years ago. They watched him win more games over the last four seasons than every QB in the NFL besides Tom Brady. And yeah, they watched him regress the past two seasons, which means they know as well as anyone what went wrong. And, maybe, how to fix it.
Put it this way. You don't trade for a player who's guaranteed $43 million over the next two seasons without intending to see if he's worth it.
Holmes and new head coach Dan Campbell "both wanted Goff, and not just as a bridge quarterback," according to Peter King of NBC Sports. Holmes still favors Goff after vouching for him in 2016, according to King. And Campbell likes Goff "not just as a bridge quarterback but as the Lions quarterback of the future."
We'll see how long that lasts. Goff's under contract through 2024, but the Lions could cut him after the 2022 season at zero cost. If he returns to the Pro Bowler he was with the Rams, Detroit just found the biggest pillar of a significant rebuild. If he looks more like the QB who has a passer rating under 90.0 since 2019, it can move on, no sweat.
None of this means the Lions won't draft a QB this year with the seventh overall pick -- although it does lessen the odds. It just means they won't be compelled to reach for one they don't love, whether it's Justin Fields, Zach Wilson or Trey Lance. It means they can make their move at QB when they feel they're ready, and it might mean their move has already been made. Point is, they have options.
And they have picks, including five first-rounders in the next three years. They have the assets in place to build the backbone of a winning team. Their heartbeat is gone, off to LA. The future got brighter, much brighter, if Goff has a pulse.