Pro football teams do a lot of maneuvering in the days before, during and after the NFL draft, and that period may tell us what the Detroit Lions plan to do with former Cal quarterback Jared Goff in 2022.
The Lions are one of the few teams whose quarterback situation for next season is unsettled, and the draft, which is scheduled for April 28-30, may provide some answers, or at least some clues.
Will Goff be the Lions’ starter next season and in 2023?
Will Goff be traded?
Will the Lions draft a quarterback with the Nos. 2, 34 or 36 overall picks to supplant Goff as their starter in 2022 or 2023?
Two weeks ago Lions general manager Brad Holmes, who had always been a supporter of Goff publicly, did not rule out the possibility of drafting a quarterback with one of their three early picks to be a backup.
“Sure, I could see some advantage of there [being] a young quarterback that can learn under Jared,” Holmes said, according to the Detroit News† “I don’t think Jared would have any issues taking on that role. He’s had more younger guys with less experience behind him, so he’d be very comfortable with that.”
That sounds like the Lions are committed to having Goff as their starter in 2022, but perhaps not beyond that. But last week, head coach Dan Campbell offered some comments that suggested the Lions were undecided on the quarterback issue.
Campbell, of course, would love to have a mobile quarterback in the Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen mold, but he seems to believe the Lions can have sustainable success with Goff, who is not mobile.
“No, I don’t think you need that,” Campbell said, according to The Detroit Free Press. “I think that those guys like that are obviously, they’re special. And they certainly can give you a better chance. But no, I don’t believe you have to have one of those guys to have sustained success.”
Campbell said he likes Goff and the way he finished the 2021 season (11 touchdown passes, two interceptions over his final five games, with the Lions going 3-2 in those games).
“I mean, look, I like Goff,” Campbell said, via to Mlive.com. “I like where he’s at. I thought he finished strong last year. I’m glad we got him this year.”
But Campbell then sent a mixed message regarding the quarterback situation.
“Keep adding pieces and then, man, whenever that is — is it next year? Is it this year? Is it two years from now? And the right guy is sitting there, then you figure out a way to get that guy. You figure out a way when it’s the right guy,” Campbell said according to the Detroit News.
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Amid the recent spate of major quarterback trades and transactions, there is always the chance Goff could be part of a major trade this spring.
CBS Sports noted 14 notable names who could be moved this offseason, and Goff was one of them. Here is what CBS Sports said about a possible Goff trade:
Somehow, Goff has escaped much speculation as a potential offseason casualty, probably more because of his contract than the fact he was so-so for a bad Lions team in 2021. It’s very possible, even if Detroit drafts a new QB, he’ll stick as the placeholder. But the Lions could save anywhere from $16 million to $26 million by dealing him prior to the start of the season. Those kinds of savings might be worth it even if Baker Mayfield is the immediate successor.
As mentioned here, Goff’s contract, which is scheduled to pay him $26 million in 2022, could be a barrier to finding a trade partner. But the other issue in his five-year contract, which extends through the 2024 season, is that it includes an out after the 2022 season. So the Lions could decide to stay with Goff for just one more season before replacing him.
The other quarterbacks on the Lions’ current roster are Tim Boyle (last year’s backup), David Blough and Steven Montez, none of whom looks like a player ready to be an NFL starter.
So here we sit, wondering.
Would the Lions trade Goff in a draft day deal? Are they professing confidence in Goff to increase his trade value? Are they merely obligated to support the current starter publicly as long as he is on the team? Do the Lions truly believe Goff’s performance in the final five games was an indication that he can lift the Lions to the playoffs in 2022?
Goff is still just 27 years old. He was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016 after throwing 43 touchdown passes in his final season at Cal in 2015. He has been selected to two Pro Bowls and led the Rams to the Super Bowl in the 2018 season. And Goff’s 91.5 passer rating for 2021 was better than that of Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, Ben Roethlisberger, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts, among others.
However, the Lions went 3-13-1 last season, including 3-10-1 with Goff as the starter, so quarterback play has to be assessed and addressed.
The period immediately before and after the NFL draft is when such questions often get resolved.
Cover photo of Dan Campbell and Jared Goff is by Kirthmon F. Dozier, USA TODAY Network
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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