Sean McVay tiptoes around Matthew Stafford’s contract concerns

There were questions about whether the Rams would use their first first-round pick since 2016. on a quarterback. After they failed to do so, it was learned that their current quarterback wants more of his remaining contract guaranteed.

There are always no accidents or coincidences on matters of this nature. With the Rams failing to land one of the top six quarterbacks in the 2024 draft, the leverage shifted to Stafford.

The question inevitably came up during coach Sean McVay’s press conference on Friday. Stafford did his best, as he often does, to tiptoe into the subject.

Is the report that Stafford wants more guarantees accurate? Enable polite non-response.

“Yes, I had a good dialogue with Matthew,” McVay said. “We’ll keep those things in-house, but he’s worked with our guys and we’ll keep those things in-house.”

Will Stafford be there for OTAs, the third key phase of the offseason program? Don’t get involved.

“He’s been working with our guys the last few weeks,” McVay said. “And so that’s kind of where we are.”

Will the Rams find a solution to the contract problem? Avoid the topic completely.

“We’re definitely excited to have Matthew as our QB,” McVay said.

So he will be on OTAs? Surrender to the situation and provide something close to a real answer, then change the subject.

“We’re going to take it one day at a time,” McVay said. “We’ll see. So we’ll try to figure him out. There’s nothing more important than making sure he feels appreciated and knows how much we love him and want him to show the way. I think that commitment that he wants to have can be mutual and we want to work to understand that. On a positive note, I will say this. can come away with four players that we consistently value. If you told us these are the four guys we could come away with after the first two nights of the draft, their roster is incredible in terms of intangibles, mental toughness. They all have a physical side to their game. They’re mature men and they’re the kind of guys we wanted to be able to recruit. It’s a credit to (GM) Les (Snead, of his group, of the amount of work they accomplished and their work in combination. with our coaching team. There was unanimous enthusiasm for these four choices and tomorrow will also represent an opportunity for us to improve.

Stafford’s options are limited. He could avoid OTAs, since they are voluntary. He could ask for a trade, but it’s a little late for that. Most, if not all, of the seats are filled. (The Raiders and Giants were the two teams that considered a quarterback Thursday night but did not draft one.)

He could retire, something the Rams very quietly hoped he would do a year ago (they would never admit it, just as they denied asking him to rework his contract in 2023 before Stafford say). But he would owe the Rams $36 million in unearned signing bonus — and he would forgo $31 million in fully guaranteed salary this year, plus another $10 million in fully guaranteed salary next year. That’s $77 million.

Stafford is wisely applying pressure to ensure he is not thrown overboard after the current season. They’d have to make a quick decision (there’s a $5 million bonus due on the third day of the league year), but they would certainly be able to move on after 2023 with just $10 million owed. Stafford wants that number to be higher, ensuring from a practical standpoint that they won’t cut it.

The final practical lever Stafford would have would be to adopt the bare minimum approach until 2023: I don’t arrive early. I don’t stay late. I don’t study cinema at home. I don’t work on Tuesdays. I do nothing more than what I am contractually required to do. If you don’t like me enough to give me more security, I’m not giving you more than I’m required to.

Would Stafford do that? That’s the real question. It’s easy to think or even say it, but he’s a competitor. He won’t want to waste what could be his final year in Los Angeles.

The Rams shouldn’t want to take that risk. They should commit to Stafford for two years, with the understanding that they will review the situation after 2025. It’s not difficult, if they really want him for the next two years. If the very discreet only want it for one more year, it gets complicated.

The fact that it’s currently complicated suggests that, indeed, the Rams only want him for one more year. Stafford wisely calls them now.

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