Matthew Stafford asked to be traded, and the Detroit Lions agreed. That still hasn’t set in for some of the Lions fans, nevertheless, it’s a reality that needs to be faced. It will take a fair market value compensation to acquire the 12-year veteran quarterback. What does that mean? That is the Lions way of posting an item for sale with “or best offer,” being part of the price. Naturally, the organization wants to get the most they can for Stafford, and rightfully so; he would be an immediate upgrade for any team in the market for a new quarterback, and even those who might not think they need a change at QB — ala San Francisco 49ers.
According to Fan Duel’s SportsBook, there are eight teams that could be working on a trade package to present to the Lions; and one that wouldn’t need to do anything.
- Indianapolis Colts +250
- New England Patriots +350
- San Francisco 49ers +350
- Miami Dolphins +400
- Detroit Lions +500
- Carolina Panthers +900
- Washington Football Team +1100
- New Orleans Saints +1500
- New York Jets +1500
Stafford’s assumed choice: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are coming in as front-runners of the Stafford sweepstakes, and with the retirement of Philip Rivers make the most sense. What could entice Stafford would be the impressive running back core, one of the league’s top defenses, and their offensive line; all things that are seemingly foreign to Stafford. Where the Lions may pass on a potential trade from the Colts is they have one of the latest first-round picks (21) comparatively with other teams on the radar.
New England Patriots
No surprise here, the Patriots always seem to find their names in the mix for almost every potential move within the NFL. To be fair, the team isn’t in this position just out of sheer luck, the Cam Newton experiment failed. Currently, holders of the 15th pick in the draft, this fairs better than the 21st from the Colts. Seeing as the Patriots are in a position that is unfamiliar, having not made the playoffs for the first time since 2020. With the front office that the Lions have assembled, and the Patriots headed the wrong direction while their division rivals — all of them — are improving; this puts the Lions in a, “and what else,” situation with the Robert Kraft.
San Francisco 49ers
When the usual offseason Stafford trade rumors start, the 49ers were at the forefront for a lot of people; myself included. With the 12th overall pick in the draft being part of the expectation, the Lions would have two first-round picks only five selections apart. The Lions have, arguably the best drafting staff in place in the history of the franchise; that has to entice them. The speedbump for the Niners is having Jimmy Garoppolo under contract for another two years just north of $26M per year, with bonuses.
“Tank for Tua” was a success as the team landed Tua Tagovalioa last season. There are so many conflicting reports and rumors about Tagovailoa that it’s truly hard to have a firm grasp on where the team actually stands. Surely, you can’t just give up on the fifth overall pick after his rookie season. It’s hard to see the Dolphins moving their third overall pick for Stafford which leaves their 18th pick on the table. Unless that is packaged with a perennial playmaker, this seems like the least likely option out of the bunch.
Home, sweet, home. While the Lions are sitting pretty at the fifth most likely destination for Stafford- it seems that the writing is on the wall. Kelly Stafford already posted her goodbye’s to the city of Detroit on Instagram, making it social media official. The Lions would love to not have to add a quarterback to their to-do list– however, they are rebuilding. The Lions are not, and won’t be, in a position to be a contender for a few seasons; so it’s time to let Stafford leave in hopes of competing for a Super Bowl elsewhere.
Regardless of which team Stafford ends up on, the Lions will have $19M in dead money; while his new home will be on the books for $20M ($9.5M plus bonuses) in 2021 and $23M ($12M plus bonuses) in 2022. Per Over The Cap, the Colts would have the easiest transition in terms of cap space.