It was a good Friday indeed for Matthew Stafford.
Stafford, the Los Angeles Rams’ veteran quarterback, ended the work week by collecting $30 million, the second half of his $60 million signing bonus from when his deal was reworked last year.
Stafford’s riches comes on the heels of a raggedly year by the Rams, as they delivered the worst season in NFL history for a team coming off a Super Bowl win.
Among the reasons the Rams sputtered to a 5-12 showing was Stafford’s lack of availability. He was bothered by elbow, concussion and neck issues which limited him to nine games and 10 touchdown passes.
The initial chatter from when he was sidelined that Stafford might be forced to retire before his 15th season has quieted. Rams coach Sean McVay said that Stafford will be fit when the team starts its offseason workouts on April 17.
“Last year there was such a unique combination of things that prevented him from being able to play the way that he is capable of,’’ McVay said at the recent NFL owners meeting.
The Rams’ fingers are crossed that Stafford can bounce back because trading or releasing him is untenable.
While Stafford, who earlier this offseason had his $31 million base salary for 2024 guaranteed and had his option bonus of $26 million triggered, is likely with the Rams for the next two seasons.
Stafford will count $20 million against the cap this season, but that number would swell to $111.5 million in dead money if he’s not on the roster, according to spotrac.com.
In 2024, Stafford will absorb $49.5 million of the team’s cap. But if the Rams were to trade or release him, his cap hit would be $91.5 million.
That’s why the rumors that the Rams might be pivoting from Stafford, as they try to reconstruct their squad, were never serious. They would be significantly hamstrung by Stafford’s dead-cap numbers.
So Stafford is healthier and richer as the Rams look to rebound. Considering the terms of his deal, L.A. has little choice but to retain the quarterback who led them to the Super Bowl 56 title.
The Rams keep paying the tab for that Vince Lombardi Trophy, when Stafford being the latest benefactor.