The LA Rams have a delicate balance between present and future with Matthew Stafford contract

Matthew Stafford has sought a new contract ahead of the 2024 NFL season, desiring some guaranteed money for the 2025 and 2026 seasons-his last two years of his deal. 

Stafford reportedly wants reassurances that the Rams won’t move on from him after this season. His 2024 salary is fully guaranteed, but he has no guaranteed money left for the remainder of his contract.  

It makes sense that Stafford wants some guarantees the Rams won’t move on from him if he battles another injury or if the season goes poorly. After all, he did win a Super Bowl with the team and has provided plenty of production. Stafford is already in the top 10 in Rams history in both passing yards and touchdowns despite playing a little more than two and a half seasons with the team. 

He is the leader of the offense, the engine that makes the whole thing go. Without Stafford, the Rams are toast. You know it, I know it, the Rams know it, and Stafford knows it. 

However, the Rams do have legitimate reasons to not pay Stafford. He’s battled numerous injuries even in a Rams uniform. Paying him only for him to get hurt makes a bad situation already worse. 

Stafford already has a $50.5M cap hit in 2025 and a $49.5M cap hit in 2026. The best solution might be a meeting in the middle where they drop his salary and cap hit in exchange for guarantees. 

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If the Rams do want to move on though, that course of action makes such a move a little untenable. Keep in mind the Rams didn’t restructure Stafford’s contract, which would have pushed money into further years. 

It wouldn’t be easy for the Rams to move on from Stafford. They would have to once again incur plenty of dead cap, but a post-June 1st cut of Stafford’s deal after this season would save about $32M in cap space. It’s not an easy price to pay with an $18.5M dead cap hit, but that is less than the dead cap they hit when they traded away Jared Goff just a few short years ago. 

It’s a tricky balance the Rams have to take. In a vacuum, paying Stafford makes all the sense in the world. You don’t want to upset him and cause strife on a team looking to make a playoff push. However, locking up any money for him in the future might take away their future if something goes wrong. The Rams didn’t make any attempts at hiding their desire for a rookie quarterback in the 2024 draft, and they might be tempted to look again in the 2025 draft. 

How the Rams approach this might signal their intentions for 2024 and beyond. Are they gearing up for one final push with Stafford in 2024…or are they looking to keep that window open for the next few seasons? Time will tell.  

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