How much is Jared Goff worth? The Lions have to figure this out.

A cynic or someone unfamiliar with Jared Goff’s mid-career renaissance might see his ugly pick six on Sunday as the reason for the Detroit Lions’ home loss to the underdog Seattle Seahawks.

Others would note that it was actually the first interception Goff has thrown in nearly 400 passes since last season, and point out that the Lions’ rebirth was largely of his own making, with Goff arguably the most influential player in uniform at Ford Field is Sunday. And if the Lions’ defense had managed to limit Seattle to a field goal in overtime, there was every reason to believe that the 28-year-old Goff would have ended up winning the game himself. Because while Goff’s errant fourth-quarter pass behind rookie back Jahmyr Gibbs — right after the Seahawks scored a touchdown — put his team on defense with just over eight minutes to play, what he did afterward is the epitome of paradox The Lions are facing the future.

Goff, the NFL’s sixth-highest scoring quarterback since the start of the 2022 season with the league’s best touchdown-to-interception ratio over that period (4.1, more than twice the NFL average, followed by Jalen Hurts at 3.4) , was masterful at taking the game into overtime. After his mistake, he immediately orchestrated a 75-yard touchdown drive, completing 8 of 10 passes for 86 yards, his final two possessions. He finished the game 28-of-35 for 323 yards with three touchdowns, the huge interception (which ended a streak of 383 attempts without one) and a 121.8 rating.

It’s perhaps fitting that he joins Matthew Stafford – the Rams QB he was “traded” for in 2021 (Goff’s inclusion was essentially viewed as a contract termination by rival teams at the time) – and Kirk Cousins, who several executives view as such A possible Goff salary comparison, as he is the only man to throw for at least 250 yards in each of the first two weeks after an ugly start for NFL passers. While we can argue about how outstanding he is, whether he’s just a “system guy,” and whether the Lions should have already extended him in an offseason of skyrocketing QB contracts, everyone agrees that Goff has the rest of his contract , namely the cast, has far surpassed a fascinating backdrop to a Lions season that is already far more interesting than the dozen or so that came before it.

“I keep hearing that they really want to do something with him,” said one general manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to discuss players on other rosters. “They want to continue to build around him. I know he played well for them, but I don’t think I could pay the money for it. This is a tricky thing. How good is he? It’s like cousins, right? He’s going to put up a lot of numbers and you’re going to win enough in the regular season, but can you win a Super Bowl with him?”

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A longtime NFL executive who negotiates contracts and is subject to similar restrictions said: “At current quarterback salaries, I wouldn’t do it. I have already designed a design or am trying to design one. It’s now becoming too expensive to keep people like that.” (This executive’s team has a QB on a rookie salary.)

A contract negotiator for another NFL team that has a QB on a rookie deal said, “It’s not for me. I’m biased because I’ve never thought much of Goff. No thanks.”

Of course they say that easily. That’s not their problem, as Goff currently ranks just 16th among QBs in average salary ($33.5 million), 16th in total compensation in 2023 ($21.65 million US dollars) and, you guessed it, right in the middle of the list of cash owed in 2024. This came after Joe Burrow increased the new stratosphere to $55 million per season and Patrick Mahomes received a restructured contract with more than $210 million guaranteed over the next four years. So what is Goff really worth?

“Good question,” said someone who has been involved in negotiating quarterback contracts for decades. (This person spoke on condition of anonymity because they do not represent Goff.) “If the market top is now at $52 to $55 [million per season]I’d say mid to high 40s.”

The GM said, “Even though I don’t want to pay him, the agent has to charge $45 [million], Right? I think you have to be prepared to pay that amount if you go into something like this with them. And like I said, I’m listening [the Lions] want to get this done.”

In fact, Goff’s value is difficult to quantify.

Rams prodigy coach Sean McVay, of all people, handpicked him first overall in 2016 and quickly took him to a Super Bowl before the Rams paid him more than many thought he needed (a four-year, high-cap, $134 million contract). ). McVay’s Rams ate up much of it to send him out and upgrade to Stafford, who made more than $200 million in Detroit without a playoff win and immediately handed a Lombardi Trophy to La-La Land.

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Goff lacks the agility and athleticism that are so valued in top quarterbacks today. Considered a franchise albatross not long ago, he has a low-key personality – he’s not going to drive up your Q ratings with national commercials or fiery speeches and antics. He arrived in Detroit with coach Dan Campbell before the 2021 season when the franchise was back in the dumpster, quietly took his lumps and took a bevy of big hits in that 3-13-1 season. Last year, he joined Stafford (four times) and Charlie Batch as the only quarterbacks to have a winning season in Detroit since 2000.

Since the Lions put together an offensive line before last season that is now considered a top offense, Goff has performed exceptionally well. Through two games in 2023, he ranks third in the NFL in passer rating (109) and has already beaten reigning champion Kansas City in Week 1. His 33 touchdown passes since the start of 2022 rank fifth and he is fourth with 5,014 passing yards (although his air yards/attempts are below the NFL average). And Goff was a perfect fit for his environment, which is characterized by young coordinator Ben Johnson’s dynamic offense, which is built on versatility in the running game and efficiency of play-action, as well as Ford Field’s controlled climate and passing lane, which promotes precise short passes to maximize the yards after the catch.

Goff has led the NFL in play-action passes with a 124.8 rating since Week 1 of 2022. He is also the NFL’s all-time leader in passer rating at home (110.8) during that span. The young Lions tend to get stuck in close games, and Goff has been one of the highest-graded QBs in the fourth quarter since 2022 (100.1; 86.4 is average). While Johnson’s probing running game sometimes gets stuck in the red zone when the field shrinks, Goff’s 24:1 TD-INT ratio there since the start of last season is also among the best in the league.

Also keep in mind that the Lions currently have a proven impact pass catcher on the roster in Amon-Ra St. Brown, with 2022 top pick Jameson Williams limited to a total of six games due to injury and a one-game suspension. And remember, they dealt Pro Bowl tight end TJ Hockenson, now the league’s highest-paid player at his position, to the rival Vikings midseason, just as the offense was starting to develop.

“They should have just paid Hockenson, that was stupid,” the GM said. “He should be Goff’s favorite target right now. This was the time to spend money and not trade high-end starters on their rookie deals.”

Again, this is hard to quantify, especially considering how successful Stafford was when the Lions finally decided to let him go and how bleak Detroit’s history was. Goff is four years younger than Smith, who received a decent stopgap deal from Seattle this offseason, but he lacks Goff’s draft status and postseason pedigree. He is seven years younger than Cousins, who has repeatedly converted short-term contracts into bonus compensation and is entering the prize of the 2024 QB free agent class. Teams are generally hesitant to allow top-tier starters into their walk year, and the price of quarterbacks continues to rise.

Simply reaching the playoffs may feel like a Super Bowl for the lowly Lions, but that’s not the stuff title chases are made of. A Goff extension is the kind of first-world quarterback dilemma this franchise has rarely faced, and it will be the first big test for a new front office. How much is Jared Goff worth? The Lions have to figure this out.

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