It was revealed last night that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had requested a trade, sparking rumours and predictions everywhere. Stafford has spent 12 years with the Lions where he was drafted number 1 overall in the 2009 draft.
It seems Stafford’s request was accepted, with it now being widely reported that the Lions will start listening to trade offers for the quarterback next week.
Turning 33 soon, Matthew Stafford clearly feels if he is going to win, he needs to win now. With the Lions in full rebuild mode, following the hiring of new head coach Dan Campbell, Stafford understandably feels Detroit won’t bring him success.
Stafford has 2 years left on his contract in Detroit, worth around $43 million. For a veteran, who has proven to be a franchise quarterback that is well below the going rate.
What we do know about Stafford’s contract, is that he is due a bonus of around $10 million on 21st March. If any trade is going to take place it will likely be before that deadline to limit the dead cap space to $19 million.
With the move for Stafford being via trade, it is unlikely Stafford will choose his desired destination. But that does not stop us from speculating! So, who are the front runners to land Stafford?
THE LANDING SPOTS FOR MATTHEW STAFFORD
Washington Football Team
Washington has connections back to Stafford. New General Manager Martin Mayhew was the GM in Detroit when they drafted Stafford #1 overall in 2009.
We are also led to believe that he is good friends with Alex Smith, and how Smith views his time in DC may have an influence on whether Stafford sees them as a good destination.
Washington are on the up and are getting younger. Washington may not be the desired destination Stafford is hoping for; but with a trade, he won’t get a say.
New Orleans Saints
While New Orleans may not have the draft capital to interest Detroit on its own; they could put a compelling trade together.
New Lions head coach Dan Campbell was an assistant in New Orleans. So, if the Saints can put a creative package together that includes draft picks and a couple of foundational players they could peak the interest of Detroit.
It is clear Campbell is trying to set an example of the culture he wants to achieve in Detroit. Bringing in players to set that example, players who he trusts and identifies with from his time in New Orleans could get the Lion’s attention.
Sean Payton has stated his intent to work with Jameis Winston but, the Saints quarterback situation still looks murky going into 2021. could Matthew Stafford be the answer?
Probably the most obvious pick for Stafford, Indianapolis is ready to win now.
If Stafford is wanting to leave to compete for championships, Indianapolis may be his best shot.
The Colts staff have done a great job over recent seasons in identifying talent and getting great value. It is likely the Colts will be interested, but, what they are willing to give up to get Stafford may not be as much as others.
Stafford is also the type of quarterback the Colts front office likes. From Peyton Manning, to Andrew Luck, to the move for Phillip Rivers last off season. With Rivers now retired, the Colts are searching for their quarterback for next season and Stafford offers value to be their franchise QB for the next 5 years.
San Francisco 49ers
Although the 49ers 2020 season did not go to plan, there are plenty of reasons for hope in San Francisco. The 49ers have playmakers in all 3 phases of the game. But, despite Jimmy Garoppolo leading them to a Super Bowl, he hasn’t quite put it all together.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan works well with gunslinger quarterbacks. He had success with Matt Ryan while he was offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
Pairing Stafford with brilliant skill position players and a proficient run game sounds appealing. Whether they can put a deal together remains to be seen. The 49ers have gained some additional picks through the hiring of both Robert Saleh and Matthew Mayhew and are now in a better position to make a trade than they were a fortnight ago.
New England Patriots
The Cam Newton experiment in New England didn’t work. Does Bill Belichick revert to type?
The Patriots are looking for their next QB, with only Jarrett Stidham currently under contract for the 2021 season. The Patriots are going to have to make some moves in this area.
New England has fallen behind both the Bills and the Dolphins in 2020. A new, competent and accomplished quarterback will be at the top of the shopping list.
Whether it is through the draft or through a trade, New England is looking for their next quarterback. Matthew Stafford fits the mold of the Patriot way. Stafford offers the leadership and intelligence that will get New England thinking.
POSSIBLE DRAFT IMPACTS
Wherever Matthew Stafford ends up, it will have repercussions on the NFL Draft. The Lions currently hold the number 7 overall pick and will be pleased to have that in the bank. With the top 4 quarterbacks likely off the board in the top 10 picks, Detroit are well placed to make a trade of their own if they need to move up to get their quarterback of the future.
It is something they may well have to do, with so many quarterback needy teams above them and other teams looking to move up themselves.
A reasonable first round pick and some valuable mid round picks seem enough to get a deal done, and for a team who are not far away, will provide great value. Trading up will be costly. But, those extra picks banked by trading Stafford, will make moving up a lot more accessible.
If the Lions stay put at #7 and with so many needs to fill, a haul of draft picks will be extremely beneficial for Detroit.
The Lions are in full rebuild mode with the loss of their quarterback, their top 3 receivers about to hit free agency and the 32nd total defense. So don’t be surprised if they also entertain moving back to gain extra picks.
If the Lions can find a placeholder quarterback in free agency, they acquire one in the Stafford trade or they simply don’t like the value at #7 overall, trading back to acquire capital to make moves in the future could make a lot of sense.
Whatever scenario plays out, Detroit will be well placed to build for the future. It is now up to them to get the best value for their franchise.
FEATURE IMAGE CREDIT: Tim Fuller/CBSSports