LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams are openly contemplating the possibility of a near future without quarterback Jared Goff.
General manager Les Snead on Tuesday echoed coach Sean McVay's pointed uncertainty last week about the prospects of Goff, the fifth-year starter who led the Rams to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick's four-year, $134 million contract starts next season, but Goff is coming off a second straight underwhelming campaign at the center of the Rams' offense, which has declined sharply overall since its Super Bowl season.
When asked whether Goff definitely will be with the Rams in 2021, Snead replied: “What I can say is Jared Goff is a Ram in this moment, and it's way too early to speculate. The future, that's a beautiful mystery.”
McVay raised eyebrows last week following the Rams' playoff loss at Green Bay when he said Goff would have to compete for a starting job just like everyone else next season — a noble sentiment, but a practical improbability for a player with $110 million guaranteed in one of the NFL's biggest contracts.
McVay and Snead both emphasized they want more out of Goff, and their public uncertainty about the quarterback's future could be a motivational tactic to encourage growth from a player who appears to have stagnated a bit.
Or the Rams seriously could be foreshadowing a move on from Goff, even with the calamitous salary cap situation it could create.
“Moving on from Jared Goff, the money we've invested in him, that's not easy to overcome,” Snead said when pressed on whether it was even possible to move a player with Goff’s contract. “But this is a cap-based system. ... Anything can be done in a cap-based system. Every team right now that's over the cap, I bet all those teams figure it out. There's ways to do it.”
Indeed, Snead has pulled off many remarkable moves against cap constraints during his bold tenure with the Rams. Los Angeles cut running back Todd Gurley and traded receiver Brandin Cooks a year ago when both had massive contracts, yet still absorbed the cap hits and fielded a roster that went 10-6 and finished second in the NFC West before beating division winner Seattle in the postseason.
Snead also praised Goff for his toughness and his overall success under McVay in the past four years, during which only Tom Brady has more than Goff's 42 victories as a starting quarterback.
“Once we're refreshed, emotions removed, we'll sit down and try to figure it out, especially on the offensive side of the ball," Snead said. “I know Sean wants to get back to being more explosive, scoring more points, not turning the ball over as much. ... There has been success there, and now the goal is to look at the model, see if there's some tweaks to be made to make sure we get back to who we were, and advance to those next two (playoff) games.”
Goff has been the Rams' starting quarterback since midway through his rookie season in 2016. He has led the Rams to four straight winning seasons, three playoff berths and one NFC title during McVay's tenure.
Yet Goff clearly doesn't yet rank among the NFL's top quarterbacks by most statistical measures, or in the eyes of opponents who often build defensive game plans attempting to force Goff to beat them.
Goff frequently appeared to be a budding star in his first two seasons under McVay when the Rams ranked first (2017) and second (2018) in the NFL in points scored, but he hasn't built on that success. His 38 turnovers over the past two seasons are the second most in the NFL, and Snead pointed out the Rams' dissatisfaction with those mistakes.
Los Angeles also hasn't done much to help Goff from a personnel perspective. The Rams haven't added any significant offensive skill-position talent in that three-year stretch other than running back Cam Akers, who only contributed during an impressive second half of the just-completed season.
Goff passed for 3,952 yards and 20 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and six lost fumbles over 15 games last season.
“There were steps forward, steps back, steps forward again,” Snead said when asked to evaluate Goff's 2020 season. “It's a hard position. You've got to learn those lessons (and) apply them in real time, which is not the easiest thing to do.”
The Rams have a history of sacrificing good in a quest for great: After last season, McVay dismissed defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and turned over his defense to rookie coordinator Brandon Staley, who promptly turned an above-average defense into the best in the NFL.
“We want to get better,” Snead said. “We want to continue doing things so we can advance to those next two games. We're in the business of assessing what we've done, building a model and then taking action to figure out how we can make the model better. That's quarterbacks, that's receivers, that's everyone.”
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