Green Bay Packers: What the Stafford/Goff Trade Means for the Pack

Oct 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) chat during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) chat during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s not even February, and the NFL just had its first blockbuster trade of the offseason. On Saturday evening, it was reported that the Detroit Lions will acquire Jared Goff and two first-round draft picks for Matthew Stafford—which for the Green Bay Packers means they won’t have to face Stafford twice a year anymore, and that’s not a bad thing.

The reason that Los Angeles also had to include two first-round picks was because of Goff’s contract. Goff is under contract for the next four seasons and comes with a cap hit of $27.8 million in 2021 and $25.5 million in 2022, according to Sportrac. With that said, if the Lions choose, they can get out of the final two years of the deal.

However, given the dead cap hits the next two seasons, that is impossible to do in 2021; although they could save about $10 million in cap space in 2022, Detroit would still incur a $15 million dead cap hit if they were to move on from Goff at that point.

So what does this mean for the Green Bay Packers?

Well, in the short term, this is a positive. Stafford has easily been the second-best quarterback in the NFC North for a number of seasons, and now, the Packers won’t have to face him twice a year. Green Bay has won their last four games against Detroit, but before that, the Packers had lost four in a row to the Lions. And as we all know, even in victory, these games are often close with Stafford under center.

Over his career, Stafford is 7-13 against Green Bay, completing 61.5 percent of his passes for almost 5,700 yards with 37 touchdowns to 20 interceptions. He has a career passer rating of 89.9. While winning hasn’t come easy during Stafford’s time in Detroit, as Aaron Rodgers pointed out in November on his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, that doesn’t mean Stafford’s ability as a quarterback should go unnoticed:

"“I will say this,” Rodgers said via Lions Wire. “A guy who probably doesn’t get anywhere near the credit for doing (expletive) like that all the time, he wears No. 9 and plays in Detroit. That dude, what he does with the ball is impressive. It’s really, really impressive.”“That dude is throwing crazy no-lookers all the time. And he can throw from any arm angle. I don’t think he gets; maybe it’s Detroit…”"

Now, instead of facing Stafford twice a year — although the Rams are coming to Lambeau Field in 2021 — Green Bay will instead take on Goff. Since playing in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, it’s been a rather rapid decline for the former first overall pick. This past season, while Goff did complete 67 percent of his passes, he threw just 20 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and averaged only 6.8 yards per attempt, a career-low as a full-time starter.

Against Green Bay in the playoffs, Goff again was efficient, completing almost 78 percent of 27 pass attempts with a touchdown, but for the most part, the Ram offense struggled to move the ball with any sort of consistency. Not to mention that Goff was unable to push the ball downfield.

Goff is a capable starting quarterback, but he has his limitations, and to put it simply, he’s not the level of quarterback that Stafford is. So as I mentioned, in the short term, this is good news for the Green Bay Packers and the rest of the NFC North.

But Detroit is more focused on the future rather than the 2021 season. They recently signed their new head coach Dan Campbell to a six-year deal, and Goff provides them a stopgap at the position while giving Detroit the opportunity to find their long-term answer at quarterback–whether that be in this year’s draft or next. After all, the Lions do have five first-round picks in the next three years.

With this trade, Detroit has positioned themselves well to improve this team in the long run with a littany of early-round selections–that is if they can take advantage of those draft picks.

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As far as the Rams go, they are an improved team. Stafford gives them a new ability to move the ball through the air, and in the quarterback friendly Sean McVay system, he could reach new heights as a passer. For the Green Bay Packers, who have Super Bowl aspirations, when it comes to getting out of the NFC, Los Angeles could very much be in their way.