ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Before exiting Lambeau Field on Sunday night, quarterback Jared Goff took a victory lap around the stadium to slap hands with Detroit Lions fans who were hanging around to celebrate.
After leading Detroit (9-8) to its first winning season since 2017, which included a 20-16 win over the Packers on the road in the finale, Lions general manager Brad Holmes said he feels Goff has proven to be the franchise’s quarterback moving forward.
“I think it’s a lot easier to get worse at quarterback than to get better in this league,” Holmes said during his end-of-season news conference Tuesday. “So, I think what Jared has done this year, he captained the ship of a top-3 offense, and he was top-10 statistically in most of the passing categories.
“And again, you know how we approach the draft,” he added. “We’re never going to turn down a good football player, so if it’s a football player we love, we’re going to make sure every stone is turned. But I do think that Jared has proven to everybody that he is the starting quarterback for us.”
After returning to Detroit on Monday, Goff and teammates cleaned out their lockers and he reiterated, “I’ve loved my time here.” He said he hasn’t been approached by the front office about his future in Detroit, but added, “We’ll see.”
“It feels great because I’ve been on the flip side of that to be in a place where you are appreciated,” Goff said. “It feels good. And again, these people here, it’s just a special place and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Goff is signed through 2024, but the Lions will incur $10 million of dead money on their cap if they release him after this season, meaning they could do so without much financial consequence if they wanted to go in another direction.
But Holmes said the team never viewed Goff as a bridge quarterback. While on the Los Angeles Rams staff, Holmes was integral in drafting Goff as the first overall pick in 2016 and stood by him even through the low moments.
“I don’t really know what the decision is,” Holmes said. “I was always confident in him because I’ve been with him from the get-go since he was drafted, back when I was with LA I just kind of know how resilient and how mentally tough he is. I think a lot of it was me knowing all the success he had in LA I think that was kind of forgotten about a little bit when he got here, and I think he was put in a very tough situation.”
Although they fell short on the final day after a late postseason push, the standard in Detroit is now to reach the playoffs, according to Holmes. That hasn’t happened since 2016.
Detroit holds the sixth pick (from the Rams) and the 18th pick in the upcoming draft, where quarterback options are expected to be available.
With Goff as the starter, the Lions climbed out of a 1-6 hole to win eight of their last 10 games.
Goff also went nine straight games without an interception and posted the fifth-longest streak in NFL history with 324 consecutive passes without a pick. In just his second year in Detroit, he set franchise marks for the lowest interception rate (1.2 percent) and the highest touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.14), which prompted coach Dan Campbell to tab him as “our quarterback” after the Packers win.
“He’s played great. He’s really a perfect fit for what we do and what we ask,” Campbell said at Green Bay on Sunday night. “I think the true sign of a pro is somebody who can take the coaching. He can look at himself in the mirror, he knows where he needs to improve, he listens to what recommendations you have to get better, and he goes at it now. He doesn’t shy from it; he doesn’t get sensitive. He just wants to be good. That’s our quarterback.”