NFL

Rams announce extension for Super Bowl-winning QB Matthew Stafford

By Sports Desk March 19, 2022

Matthew Stafford has signed a four-year, $160million extension with the Los Angeles Rams as the Super Bowl champions aim to bolster their squad for a title defence.

Stafford, who played just three playoff games in 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, ended his first year in LA by leading the Rams to a 23-20 Super Bowl LVI win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Representing a significant upgrade on predecessor Jared Goff – who headed to Detroit as part of a trade that also saw the Lions receive two first-round picks – Stafford threw for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns in the 2021 regular season.

The team improved from ranking 13th in passing offense in 2020 (250.9 yards per game) to fifth in 2021 (273.1 yards).

The one-time first overall draft pick added 1,188 yards and nine touchdown passes in the Rams' successful playoff run, including three scores in the defeat of the Bengals.

Stafford's existing contract had been set to expire following the 2022 season, but the new deal added to the end of that is set to keep the quarterback in LA through 2026.

The extension guarantees Stafford $135m, according to reports, and was crucially secured before his $10m roster bonus was due on Sunday.

This should allow cap space for the Rams to further improve their roster in free agency, with another title tilt on the cards as both coach Sean McVay and superstar defender Aaron Donald appear set to return despite claims to the contrary.

The Rams have already signed Allen Robinson and Stafford will again be able to look to Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp in a fearsome offense.

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    The 23-year-old Jets QB fell, got up limping, before dropping to the turf again and exiting for the locker room.

    Wilson had thrown an interception on the Jets' fifth play, finishing the game completing three of five passes for 23 yards.

    The injury concern is to the same knee that he sustained a PCL sprain last season, causing him to miss four games.

    Jets head coach Robert Saleh revealed Wilson would have an MRI on Saturday to determine the extent of the injury but said his ACL was "supposed to be intact".

    The Jets have high hopes for their 2021 NFL Draft second pick, building their roster around him this offseason, having bolstered their offensive ranks with tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin and drafting wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall.

    Wilson had a difficult rookie season with a 3-10 record, completing 213 of 383 attempts for nine touchdowns and 2,334 yards with 11 interceptions for a 55.6 completion rate.

    There were other injury worries from Friday's preseason games with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London hurting his right knee in their 27-23 win over the Detroit Lions.

    San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell watched on in their clash with the Green Bay Packers after suffering a hamstring injury during their camp.

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  • Deshaun Watson apologises to 'all of the women that I have impacted' Deshaun Watson apologises to 'all of the women that I have impacted'

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    Few things will have made football fans feel stranger than seeing Lionel Messi wearing any other club shirt than that of Barcelona.

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    The master before the apprentice

    Before Messi, there was Ronaldinho, a player so captivating in 2005 he even earned a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu from the Real Madrid fans for his performance in El Clasico.

    The Brazilian consistently wowed the crowds with his skill paired with dribbling prowess and the ability to change a game all on his own. 

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    Two lions unable to roar to success

    Not all that far behind Ronaldinho in the voting back in 2005 were England midfield pair Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

    The Barca man had received 50 votes in all, with Lampard second on 45 and Gerrard third on 39, though the Brazilian was significantly ahead of his two rivals in terms of those who voted him first (with voters marking down their top five in order).

    It had been an excellent year for both Lampard and Gerrard though, with the former a key part of Jose Mourinho's dominant Chelsea who not only won the Premier League at a canter, securing 95 points and finishing 12 ahead of second-place Arsenal, but also dumped Barcelona out of the Champions League.

    However, they in turn were eliminated from the competition in the semi-finals by Gerrard and Liverpool, who went on to lift the cup in Istanbul after a dramatic win on penalties against Milan in the final.

    Had it been the modern day, in all likelihood, Gerrard would have received the most votes given the emphasis placed on winning the Champions League in recent years.

    The Reds captain was a force of nature in 2004-05, dragging Liverpool through several games on his own though, like Ronaldinho, had not been a very regular scorer, only netting seven goals and four assists in 30 Premier League games, and Rafael Benitez's side finished a disappointing fifth.

    Lampard was more of a net botherer though, scoring 13 goals and recording an impressive 18 assists in 38 league games for the Blues on their march to the title.

    Funnily enough, Gerrard and Lampard will face each other as managers on Saturday as Aston Villa host Everton in the Premier League.

    The little engine that would

    Little did the game know what was about to hit it.

    When Messi scored that goal against Albacete on May 1, 2005, it was the birth of a figure who would go on to become arguably the greatest footballer of all time.

    It must be said that the last time Messi was not on what was then a 50-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, he was just 18 years old, and had been just 17 when he netted his first goal for Barca.

    For the remainder of the year, Messi set about establishing himself as a key part of Barca's attack alongside Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o under the coaching of Frank Rijkaard.

    Messi scored six goals in 17 LaLiga appearances for the Blaugrana in 2005-06, as well as notching his first Champions League goal in a 5-0 win over Panathinaikos at the Camp Nou.

    In 2006, he was tied 20th in the voting for the Ballon d'Or and the rest, as they say, is history.

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    There is also a World Cup on the horizon, after all.

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