We should all take a moment to give the Los Angeles Rams a slow clap for the blockbuster trade they pulled off with the Detroit Lions to replace the not-working-out-so-well Jared Goff with the 33-year-old veteran Matthew Stafford. Now, whether that clap is sincere or laced with sarcasm is up to the clapper and how they perceive this deal, but make no mistake about it - Sean McVay got his guy!
The Rams are notorious for giving up Day 1 draft capital for certain players they absolutely must have. And they are not cheap when it comes to shelling out draft capital as they have paid some hefty prices to acquire players. Whether it was the rights to draft Goff back in 2016, or deals to acquire Brandin Cooks, Jalen Ramsey, and now Stafford, the Rams have frivolously traded away first-round draft picks.
In the process of trading for Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, and Brandin Cooks - here is an updated tally of what the Rams have received in the first-round of the NFL draft:— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 31, 2021
As steep as it was to get Stafford, we’re not going to pass judgment on the Rams front office for this move. Why should we? Since McVay has joined the team, the Rams have had four straight winning records and made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. That includes their Super Bowl appearance during the 2018 season. They are coming off a season where they had the no. 1 defense in the league and now they’ve added a quarterback who throws for 4,000 yards in his sleep. Regardless of what the long-term future holds for this Los Angeles team, the addition of Stafford could make them rather dangerous in the here and now.
Instead, let’s just use this as another reminder that the business of acquiring quality NFL quarterbacks can be maddening.
For example, over the last ten drafts, 32 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round, enough for each NFL team to have one. However, each team hasn’t gone after a quarterback, but 23 different teams have. And it doesn’t take a math wizard to realize some teams have had to hit the reset button at quarterback more than once. In fact, seven different teams have drafted a quarterback twice in the first round of the draft over the last decade. They are:
- Arizona Cardinals - Josh Rosen, then Kyler Murray
- Buffalo Bills - E.J. Manuel, then Josh Allen
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Blaine Gabbert, then Blake Bortles
- Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, then Tua Tagovailoa
- Minnesota Vikings - Christian Ponder, then Teddy Bridgewater
- Tennessee Titans - Jake Locker, then Marcus Mariota
- Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, then Dwayne Haskins
Even more disheartening is that not a single quarterback on this list remains with their respective team on a second contract. While there are a few young arms on here that still have a shot to do so, it’s a rather extensive list of pure disappointment. And a couple of these teams could be dipping their toes once again into a brand new rookie who they hope to be the answer at quarterback.
Of course, let’s not leave out the Cleveland Browns as they are notorious for making bad quarterback selections. The Browns have taken a first-round quarterback not once, not twice, but three times over the last ten drafts.
- Brandon Weeden in 2012
- Johnny Manziel in 2014
- Baker Mayfield in 2018
If you go back a few years further, they even selected Brady Quinn in 2007, meaning that during the Cowboys reign of Tony Romo (undrafted) and Dak Prescott (fourth-round pick), the Browns have selected a total of four quarterbacks in the first round of the draft. The Browns draft decisions at quarterback are so bad that even when they’ve been in a perfect position to land a great quarterback, they still somehow find a way to mess it up.
For example, after gaining an extra first-round pick from the Philadelphia Eagles after trading away the pick used to draft Carson Wentz, the Browns turned around and traded it away to the Houston Texans. The Texans used that pick (12th overall in 2017) to draft Deshaun Watson, while Cleveland instead waited until the second round to draft the quarterback they wanted, DeShone Kizer.
While Cleveland is the team that gets picked on the most for quarterback foul ups, many teams have made costly mistakes trying to find a good quarterback.
The Chicago Bears gave up two draft picks to move up just one spot to select Mitchell Trubisky in 2017. Things haven’t worked out as the Bears declined to pick up his fifth-year option last offseason, meaning Trubisky will hit free agency this year.
The San Francisco 49ers are the team that made the trade with the Bears to allow them to move up. They also needed a quarterback, but they went a different route. They traded a second-round draft pick to the New England Patriots to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers quickly signed him to a five-year, $137.5 million extension. The craziness of that big contract was that Jimmy G only had seven career starts at the time of his extension. Garoppolo has already cashed in on $85 million of his deal despite landing on injured reserve twice over the last three years.
Then, there are the Eagles who gave up four extra draft picks to move up from no. 8 to no. 2 overall to select Carson Wentz. The Eagles also signed Wentz to a four-year, $128 million extension in 2019. And with Wentz’s recent benching in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts, that could end up being one enormously wasteful investment.
Anteing up big for a quarterback isn’t the problem. That’s just what teams have to do. Of the teams that haven’t drafted a quarterback in the first round over the past ten years, all of them have a quarterback signed to a long-term $100+ million deal and/or has over $200 million in career earnings. Well, all except one.
The Dallas Cowboys.
Hopefully, that will change when the Cowboys finally extend Prescott. The price will be high, but at least Cowboys fans should take comfort in knowing that they’re getting something good for their investment. Nice things cost money.
The Rams have a new quarterback now, but they’ll have to absorb Goff’s $22 million dead money hit as well as have Stafford on the books for the next couple years. And if you count what the Rams gave up to acquire Goff in the first place, the grand total of draft capital used to now bring Stafford to LA is:
- Four first-round picks
- Two second-round picks
- Three third-round picks
The silver lining on the eventual Prescott long-term deal is that the Cowboys sacrificed zero first-round draft picks to get him. That is great news for a team that has used their last two first-rounders to draft CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper as well as five All-Pro players over their previous six drafts.
Let the craziness continue as quarterback shuffling will always be a thing, but take pleasure in knowing that once the Dak deal is done, the Cowboys will cement themselves as one of the lucky ones.