The Los Angeles Rams' trade for and acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford is now official.
Here are five things to know about L.A.'s newest signal-caller:
1) Established a reputation for toughness early in his career
In Week 11 of Stafford's rookie season, the Lions were trailing the Browns 37-31. With eight seconds left in the fourth quarter, Stafford took the snap, scrambled, then heaved up a prayer from the Browns 39-yard line.
He successfully evaded the first two pass rushers, but after letting go of the ball, the third – 305-pound defensive tackle C.J. Mosley – landed on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, an injury that required him to be helped to the sideline.
At the same time, a pass interference penalty had been called against the Browns in the endzone, giving the Lions an untimed town – and one last play – from the Cleveland one-yard line. While be tending to by Lions athletic trainers on the sideline, he heard the Browns call timeout, giving him a chance to re-enter the game for that final play, though against the advice of the trainers.
Stafford then threw a game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew to snap a six-game losing streak for the Lions.
2) Airing it out
Rams head coach Sean McVay has talked about creating more explosive plays being a priority for the upcoming season, and adding a quarterback with an arm like Stafford's is one way to do that.
Per the NFL's Next Gen Stats (NGS), Stafford tied with the Browns' Baker Mayfield and the Texans' Deshaun Watson for the sixth-highest average intended air yards in the league at 9. Stafford also tied with the Vikings' Kirk Cousins and the Cowboys' Dak Prescott for ninth-highest average completed air yards in the league at 6.8.
NGS says the air yards metric shows how far the ball is being thrown downfield – more specifically, it defines air yards as "the vertical yards on a pass attempt at the moment the ball is caught in relation to the line of scrimmage. Completed air yards shows the average Air Yards a passer throws on completions, and intended air yards shows the average Air Yards a passer throws on all attempts."
3) Social justice advocate
In early February, Stafford and his wife Kelly announced a $1 million pledge to kick off SAY Detroit's campaign to build a new annex on the grounds of the SAY Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park called "The Kelly and Matthew Stafford & Friends Education Center." Per a release from the organization, "the 20,000-square-foot facility will include six classrooms, learning labs, vocational training space and a theater/auditorium, allowing SAY Detroit to expand its services and house a growing and diverse range of programming for kids, teens and adults."
According to its website, SAY Detroit is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve "the lives of Detroit's neediest citizens through shelter, food, medical care, volunteer efforts and education."
Last August, he and Kelly donated $1.5 million to their alma mater, the University of Georgia, with $350,000 of those funds going toward starting a social justice program within the school and its athletic department and scholarships for students in need.
Additionally, Stafford was also part of a players' coalition while in Detroit that drove organizational and community social justice efforts, such as working with state officials for a virtual voter registration event last July that focused on spreading voter education and awareness.
Those efforts, along with other support provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, led to the couple being named Michiganians of the Year by The Detroit News.
Take a look back at Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford's 12 year career in the NFL before joining the Rams in 2021.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Stafford has 38 game-winning drives in his career, tied with the Falcons' Matt Ryan for fourth-most among active players.
That total is also tied with Ryan and former Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas for eighth-most all-time.
Additionally, Stafford's 31 fourth-quarter comebacks since 2009 are most in the NFL, while his 38 game-winning drives since 2009 are second-most in the NFL behind the Saints' Drew Bees (39).
5) Reuniting with a former college teammate
Stafford was teammates with current Rams assistant head coach/running backs coach Thomas Brown for two seasons (2006-07) at the University of Georgia; Stafford's freshman and sophomore seasons overlapped with Brown's junior and senior seasons.