Sean McVay tiptoes around Matthew Stafford's contract concerns.

There was a question about whether the Rams would use their first first-round pick from 2016 On the midfielder. After they didn't, word came out that the current quarterback He wants to secure more of his remaining contract.

There are still no incidents or coincidences in matters of this kind. With the Rams not getting a top-six quarterback in the 2024 draft, leverage has shifted back to Stafford.

On Friday, the issue inevitably came up during coach Sean McVay's press conference. McVeigh did his best, as he often does, to get around the issue.

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

“Yes, I had a good conversation with Matthew,” McVay said. “We'll keep this stuff at home, but he was working with our guys and we'll keep this stuff at home.”

Will Stafford show up for the OTAs, the third major phase of the offseason? Be non-committal.

“He's been working with our guys the last couple of weeks,” McVay said. “And that's where we are now.”

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

“We're definitely interested in having Matthew as our center,” McVay said.

So it will be in OTAs? Lighten up the situation, offer something close to the real answer, and then change the subject.

“We'll take it one day at a time,” McVay said. “We'll see. So we'll try to figure that out. There's nothing more important than making sure that he feels valued and that he knows how much we love him and we want him to lead the way. I think that this commitment that I think he wants can be mutual and we want to work on figuring that out. And on a P.S. Positive, I'll say this I've got [Blake] Corum and you get [Kamren] Kenshins. To be able to come up with four players that we continually value. If you told us these were the four guys we would be able to get away with after the first two nights of the draft, their combination is unbelievable in terms of intangibles, mental toughness. All of these guys have physicality on their game. They are mature men and that is the type of men we wanted to be able to bring in. It is a great credit to us [G.M.] for him [Snead, his group, the amount of work that they’ve done and then working in combination with our coaching staff. There has been unanimous excitement for all four of those picks and tomorrow will represent an opportunity for us to improve as well.”

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

He could retire, something the Rams very quietly hoped he might do a year ago (they’d never admit it, just like they denied they asked him to rework his contract in 2023 before Stafford said they did). But he’d owe the Rams $36 million in unearned signing bonus — and he’d be giving up $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 in order to ensure he doesn’t get thrown overboard after the current season. They’d need to make a quick decision (there’s a $5 million roster bonus due on the third day of the league year), but they’d definitely be able to move on after 2023 with only $10 million owed. Stafford wants that number to be higher, ensuring as a practical matter that they won’t cut him.

The last practical piece of leverage Stafford would have is to take the bare-minimum approach to 2023: I’m not showing up early. I’m not staying late. I’m not studying film at home. I’m not working on Tuesdays. I’m not doing a damn thing more than what I’m contractually required to do. If you don’t appreciate me enough to give me more security, I’m not giving any more than I’m required to do.

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

The Rams shouldn’t want to risk it. They should make a two-year commitment to Stafford, with the understanding that they’ll revisit the situation after 2025. It’s not hard, if they really want him for the next two years. If the very quietly only want him 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 is wisely calling them on it now.

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