Can the Rams at least succeed in making Jared Goff an expensive backup?

The Rams seem to want to replace Jared Goff, but can they at least succeed in making him an expensive backup?

Rams, Jared Goff
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said Jared Goff is a Ram “at this moment”, which runs parallel to head coach Sean McVay saying the former No. 1 pick was the team’s quarterback “right now.”

Goff started 15 games this season, before a thumb injury cost him Week 17. His numbers were not good (3,952 yards, 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions), and turnovers as a whole (with four lost fumbles) were an issue.

John Wolford started Week 17, a game the Rams won to clinch a playoff spot. Goff was healthy enough to be in uniform for the Wild Card Round against the Seahawks, but Wolford got the start. Then he suffered a neck injury, and Goff stepped in.

Heading into the Divisional Round against the Packers, McVay didn’t name a starting quarterback until Wolford was declared out. After the season-ending loss, NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reported the relationship between McVay and Goff needed “marriage counseling.”

Goff has not played well, with 29 interceptions in 31 games over the last two seasons. Coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the Rams jumped the gun and gave him a four-year, $134 million deal in 2019. That deal starts in 2021.

What should the Rams do with Jared Goff?

The Rams can’t just cut Goff this offseason. They’d take on $65.2 million in dead money if they did (pre-June 1). Trading him is more palatable, with $22.2 million in dead money left from his $34.95 million cap hit if they did that.

But who is trading for Goff off his performance the last two seasons? He’s also due $43 million in guaranteed salary for 2021 and 2022. Another team with any sort of other option isn’t making a deal for Goff without some concession from the Rams (a draft pick, retaining some cost).

McVay and Snead each effectively declared that Goff would have to compete for the starting job. On Wednesday, it was confirmed.

Ideally the Rams would have someone better, or at least more proven, than Wolford to compete with Goff. But a top-heavy roster means having less good depth. Less than 18 months ago, the Rams also thought they had their quarterback. Who was backing up Goff was not critically important. And someone who could legitimately compete with him for the starting job? Not necessary. The idea of the Rams adding someone like Jameis Winston or Cam Newton last offseason was interesting, but it never seemed likely.

So the Rams are all but surely stuck with Goff for one more year, and probably two. The idea they will have him in an open camp competition with Wolford, who had not taken a meaningful NFL snap until he stepped in this year, says it all.