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Lions Looking to Trade QB Matthew Stafford

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Detroit Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford have mutually agreed to seek a trade that will separate the franchise from it's all-time leading passer.

Stafford reportedly approached the team about a trade, but the Lions asked him to wait until a general manager and head coach were hired first. Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell, the two men who were picked to fill those roles, were advised of the Stafford situation throughout the hiring process, and the decision has been made to pursue a trade. 

Stafford, the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, turns 33 next month. He has thrown for 45,109 passing yards in his career, nearly triple the total of any other Lions quarterback. He was 14th in both DYAR and DVOA this season; he has finished 10th or better in DYAR six times, peaking at fifth place in 2011. He has never won a playoff game. He is under contract for two more years for a combined $43 million.

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71 comments, Last at 28 Jan 2021, 7:28am

1 Coming after their HC hire

and not before like Watson.

If he's still crying: Wentz for Stafford? Exchange 6 & 7 to get it done? Send him back to TX to Houston with 7+1st for Deshaun?

IDK just throwing em out there.

2 He’ s not quite good enough…

He’ s not quite good enough to carry a team without help, so teams that will also be bad, like Houston and Philly, trading for him don’t make any sense.  Indy would make the most sense.  My dream scenario would be Miami deciding Tua needs a couple more years to sit, and giving up #3 for Stafford and #7.

6 I never understood the fascination with Stafford.

He's alright I guess. 14th in PFF grade, DYAR and DVOA this year. Seems about right for his career too. But Miami with Stafford seems like a WC exit to me. Probably not that much different than Fitzpatrick. Same with Indy. Maybe divisional if they spend correctly. Tua + 3 should only be used for Watson imo. Overall: eh whatever. 

11 This was a relative down…

This was a relative down year for him.  He was top 10 or better in DYAR 4 of the previous 5 years, which is basically his level of play in the 2nd half of his career (after Megatron retired).  I didn’t got look up his PFF grade the last few years.  He’s much better than Fitzpatrick, and much better than end of career Rivers (although Rivers overall was much better than him).  Although it seems like he’s been around forever, he’ll only be 33 at the start of next season.

19 Eh

Rodgers, Mahomes, Brady, Russ, Ryan, Dak (UFA), Cousins, Tannehill, Carr, Lamar, Watson, Kyler, probably forgetting someone. 

Maybe a little better but I dont see the results being that much different. His EPA+CPOE composite is worse than Rivers and Fitzpatrick since he entered the league (2009). Maybe they're more different now but they were still higher in 2020 alone. I guess still just don't see a deep playoff run. He's kinda rightfully only a 1 time pro bowler imo. 

IDK, feels like sympathy and draft position are clouding what he really is and people are hoping he finally breaks out and lives up to other #1 picks like Peyton. Just my two cents watching Stafford over the years as a Packers fan. I'd try for Dak first if I'm any QB needy team.

20 I’m not arguing he’s #1 pick…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I’m not arguing he’s #1 pick caliber, all-Pro caliber, or even multi-year pro bowl caliber.  Just that he could have a Tannenhill-like career resurgence, or 2016 Matt Ryan-Iike break out year in the right place.  The knock on him is that he can’t carry a team on his back, which is absolutely true.  As #1 overall pick, he never lived up to that.

Dak would be a pretty huge cap hit, along with the draft capital (unless the Cowboys are idiots and don’t tag him, or just try to keep him).    Stafford’s cap hit would be pretty minimal in comparison.   I guess it depends on how long the Colts think they can keep their young core on Oline and defense together before they start getting too expensive to keep.

23 No can. We’ve seen HOF QBs…

None can. We’ve seen HOF QBs and goat candidates on otherwise shitty (Lionsian) teams. They don’t break .500.

Dallas sucked even with Dak. Brees had a lot of 7-9 bullshit on teams without defenses. Young had the TB years. Tarkenton had NYG. Marino had the later Miami defenses.

25 Agreed. Watson went 4-12…

Agreed. Watson went 4-12 last year, too. My only hesitation comes from Peyton and that time he didn't play and the Colts went nearly winless. But a sample number of one isn't very convincing in the end.

36 Curtis Painter was really…

Curtis Painter was really bad though. Like people I knew who are Purdue alums were shocked he made it into the NFL at all bad. There were some other extenuating circumstances as well, but that's the biggest one. It wasn't replacing a legend with a mid-pack starter, it was replacing with someone who should have never been in the NFL.

43 Those Colts went: Manning --…

Those Colts went:

Manning -- 10-6
Painter -- 2-14
Luck -- 11-5

Manning was great, Luck was very good, but Painter was terrible. 

A better analysis of Manning is Tebow to Manning, which was 8-8 - 13-3. Or Winston (7-9) to Brady (11-5). Going from mediocre to great is worth 4-5 wins, but so is going from wretched to mediocre (Rosen to Murray (+2.5), Rosen to Fitzpatrick (~+5)). 

Going from Rosen to Mahomes might be a delta of 19.

51 This is lazy analysis.  The…

This is lazy analysis.  The Colts changed the FO and the coaching staff after the Painter year.  There was also some significant roster turnover.  Outside of QB, the Denver and TB rosters were similarly upgraded after the arrivals of Manning and Brady.  Another way to look at it is this: I'm pretty sure that this year's Bucs would've been better than 7-9 if Winston was still on the roster and Gronk, AB, the new o linemen, the defensive draft picks were still brought in.  Since 8-8 was worthy of a playoff spot in the NFC this year, I am also pretty sure that they would've made the playoffs this year too.  

Same with Rosen, he endured a mid-season coordinator change and most of the Arizona coaching staff was fired after his first year. Conversely, Murray was able to play in the system that he's played in since middle school and was coached by a guy who recruited him in college.

31 What are the chances

to breakout like that? At age 33 on an entirely new team?

Dak will cost more cap wise but they have plenty of cap space and they'd probably be able to contend for more than a couple years. Stafford wouldn't get me that excited if I was one of these teams.

32 Ryan was 31 in 2016. …

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Ryan was 31 in 2016.  Another example that’s probably a better comp for Stafford is Carson Palmer, who finally reached his potential after leaving a dumpster fire of an organization.  He was 36 when he had an all pro worthy year and deep playoff run in 2015.

33 So younger?

And on the same team? And was 3x pro bowler before that? 

Palmers better. Only 2x pro bowler before hand. 

Still think it's a slim chance but even those seasons didn't result in a SB (but of course that's really hard). Seems like wishful thinking but there are indeed a lot better places than Detroit that he can have to do less. 

40 Palmer being better in CIN…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Palmer probably was better (he was when looking at DYAR...Pro Bowls are a dubious way to measure player quality), but not by that much.  He certainly was unimpressive with the Hue Jackson Raiders.  Ryan was better in ATL in early years, but also had much more team support.  Things started falling apart for him when that got stripped away (as his 2013-15, and 2018-2020 seasons attest to).

Even though the Cardinals didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, you can’t argue that it wasn’t worth a shot.  They fell one game short in 2015, and would have had a decent chance in 2014 if Palmer didn’t get hurt.  

61 Pro bowls are relative

I guess you could say it was worth a shot. The "Arizona Cardinals acquired QB Carson Palmer and a 2013 seventh-round draft pick from the Oakland Raiders for a 2013 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional 2014 seventh-round draft pick." Don't think you're gonna get that deal with Detroit though. If you do, yeah, go for it. But Watson, Mahomes, Lamar, Allen, etc are still gonna be in the AFC (for example). Might want someone with a higher ceiling if you're giving up more than that. But that's just me. 

64 The Raiders initially gave…

The Raiders initially gave up a huge haul (at least two firsts) to get Palmer, but it didn’t work, because Hue Jackson was involved, and the early 2010 Raiders were a poorly run dumpster fire.  The Cardinals got Palmer for cheap because everyone thought he was done (it turned it he wasn’t yet).

“Watson, Mahomes, Lamar, Allen, etc are still gonna be in the AFC”

Well good thing football is a team sport then.  Aaron Rodgers was by far the best quarterback in the NFC this year, but he just lost a game against a quarterback who threw three interceptions, because the rest of his team was good enough to compensate.  If you dropped Stafford on to the Colts do you really think the Texans wouldn’t be comfortable underdogs against them?  Last year the Colts beat the Chiefs on the road with Jacoby Brissett (although Mahomes was playing banged up, and there was a little luck involved).  

I keep bringing up the Colts because they’re a well constructed team with no clear path to a starting QB.  I think it would be worth it for them, because Stafford gives you a lot more than a cheap mid-tier starter.  Even the Broncos would make some sense, because they have a decent defense and skill position talent, and were still somewhat competitive with an interception machine under center in 2020.  Like the Colts, they don’t have a clear path to a new starter, because they don’t pick high enough to get a new one with high upside.

65 Two 1sts would be an overpay

It was actually a 1st and a 2nd. Still an overpay for Stafford I'd say. 

I just think the general hoopla around Stafford has more to do with pity than the player he actually is. If you have PFF, this article is what I'm talking about. 

Rest of Rodgers team wasn't good enough. But they made it to the NFCCG. For the 5th time. There's a big difference between the two QBs. And he didn't have Megatron for 7 years. Even recently, Golladay, Jones, Amendola, Tate, etc aren't that bad of a group. IDC if he's never had 1000 yard rusher. I'll give him this: why would I take the ball out of his hands for a RB? 

The Texans were underdogs (and lost) both their meetings this season with old Pip. Yeah, I think that'd stay the same w/Stafford. Texans are a mess unfortunately. I just think the Colts could shoot for a higher ceiling than a 33 year old Stafford. Let me ask this: would you rather trade #21 for Stafford or sign Dak to a 4 yr, $147,288,320 contract? I'd rather do Dak.


66 I agree two firsts would be…

I agree two firsts would be an overpay.  The Raiders were desperate, so were the Vikings when they acquired Bradford.  The general consensus is it would be a first round pick and a day 3 pick.

"There's a big difference between the two QBs."

I wasn't trying to argue Stafford was anywhere near as good as Rodgers (not sure why you went to that straw man), just trying to make a point that having an inferior quarterback to the Watsons and Mahomes of the league doesn't immediately sink you.  I think we can both agree that Brady was inferior to Rodgers (both this year and in that game), and the Buccaneers beat them in both meetings.  

Like the Bucs, the Colts are also a very good team.  Would I rather have a healthy Dak?  Of course, but I really doubt he's going to be available (maybe Jerry Jones really is that stupid, but I doubt it), and I don't know enough about the Colts cap situation to know if they could even fit him in without blowing up their team.   Would I rather have one of the top rookies next year?  Yes, but how?  I'm talking about a realistic path forward for them.  Given his remaining contract, giving up #21 and late pick for Stafford would be reasonable, IMO and help keep them a contender.

As far as PFF, they can be useful, but they have their limitations, and their findings can often be discordant with other observers.  Most (especially film watchers) have a higher opinion of him.  Here's Football Outsiders alum Doug Farrar as one example:


Yes, by it's very nature, film study is subjective, unlike advanced stats, but it's also hard to separate the player from context with the latter.

67 1st and a 2nd also too much

I went there because I don't think you should expect better results than that. Because the QB is inferior and more or less the same as what they got out of Pip this year. Stafford just isn't really that much better. Sympathy for the Lions being bad is clouding who he really is as their situation is partly on him. He's not even Brady, who played great in the first half Sunday. 

Colts effectively have $68m in cap space. They could fit Dak in quite easily. Trade 21 for him like they did Buckner last year if needed. If those are the options. Dallas "only" has $17m. Well below the (second) QB franchise tag.

PFF watches the film too, they also try to find data to back them up. I've watched Stafford over the years. If you want to trade 21 for it, I'm not gonna be surprised if the end results are the same as this year. He doesn't move the needle for me. 

Sidenote on that article: play under pressure isnt stable. Especially 1 year sample sizes. 

All this reminds me of people picking the Lions to win the NFC North (or at least make the playoffs) this season. All, more or less, based on Staffords 8 game sample size last season. Welp. Worst team in the NFC North and the meh QB plays apart in it. And he's got an extensive history of it. 

We just value Stafford differently. Maybe he'll turn around like Palmer. But even his turn around wasn't that long/sustained. For me, it feels like running in place. 

68 All this reminds me of…

All this reminds me of people picking the Lions to win the NFC North (or at least make the playoffs) this season. All, more or less, based on Staffords 8 game sample size last season. Welp. Worst team in the NFC North and the meh QB plays apart in it. And he's got an extensive history of it. 

Drew Brees was under .500 in 4 out of 5 seasons in which he was shackled to the kind of defense Stafford usually gets.

Brady has spent three seasons in his career with a scoring defense outside the top-10. Stafford has spent one season in his career with a defense inside the top-10. He has spent 8 seasons with a defense worse than the worst defense Brady has ever had.

Stafford can't take the Jets to the playoffs. No one can. But looking at wins misses the point. Stafford drags along more dead weight than Harrison Bergeron.

69 I didn't say anything about wins there

But since you brought it up he's had a winning record 4/12 years. And the 2019 season I was referencing he was 3-4-1. Below .500. So I wasn't referencing wins, I was referencing his high aDOT. That went back down this season. That's what everyone was banking on leading the Lions to the playoffs. 

Too bad no ones asking him to lead the Jets. People are thinking he drastically turns them into SB contenders with the Colts etc., when he's more or less like Pip was this year. 

Defense doesn't have to do w/him leading the 16th ranked offense this year. And all those worse this year (PIT, CHI and WAS) all...got bounced in the WC! Whoa! Just like Indy, that I've been saying. Is he going to make them jump into the top 11 with Hilton being an UFA?

55 "I’m not arguing he’s #1…

"I’m not arguing he’s #1 pick caliber"

I think you're overrating the average QB taken number 1 overall. Just looking since the Peyton draft, I'd rank the first overall pick QB's as follows:


Carson Palmer

Kyler Murray




Alex Smith





Jameis Winston

David Carr

Tim Couch

Jamarcus Russell


I imagine most would rank Eli above Stafford (I'm not even a huge fan of Stafford really, just very anti-Eli), and you could maybe argue Luck and Newton on peak value and Mayfield on potential, but you've got to work really hard to put Stafford below the middle of that list.


3 God that list of Lions…

God that list of Lions quarterbacks is depressing.  

Staffords legacy in Detroit will be complicated.  Early in his career, he got by on his arm talent and Megatron, without really working on his mechanics and footwork.  He got much better about it after Megatron retired (because he had to),  but one wonders how much better he could have been if he had done it earlier.  

Watching the Lions from 2011-2017 was fun primarily because of Stafford.  4 winning seasons and 3 playoff appearances with no wins doesn’t sound like much, but it was the best period in this crappy franchise’s post-merger history other than the 90’s.  

I really hope he can go to a good situation and show what he can do with some help.  He’s more than capable of having a 2016 Matt Ryan season with the right coaching staff and supporting cast.

4 Dan campbell has taken a…

Dan campbell has taken a true position at the proverbial qb fork in the road. Good thing he has 6 years of salary to see it through cuz this road is likely to end in disaster rather than nirvana. 

12 They should just let the…

They should just let the pending FA’s walk, pick up a couple comp picks, and take Browns route back to relevance by accepting that they’re going to suck for a few years.

5 Remarkably, there is still a…

Remarkably, there is still a lot of unknown about what Stafford is in a vacuum. I think Tannys resurgence showed a renewed faith in under utilized qbs. To me, he's in that crowded tier of good but not great qbs.

34 I'm not a huge fan of…

I'm not a huge fan of Stafford but I do think he's clearly an upgrade over Jimmy G. Whether he's worth what it would take to get him is unknown, but I do think he would be an upgrade.

7 This seems like a fairly…

This seems like a fairly classy way to go about wanting a trade.  He brought it up to the organization early but privately, so the new GM/Coach could be in the loop and not have publicly burned bridges if stuff happened.

14 Not only that, he agreed…

Not only that, he agreed that he would only be traded for “fair market value”, so that he agreed to stay if his only suitors tried to lowball the team.  

Wherever he goes, I’ll be rooting hard for him to succeed.

8 The lions just can't have…

The lions just can't have nice things. First Barry, then Megatron, and now Stafford. For his sake I hope he ends up with the Colts,  best potential winning situation or maybe the 49ers are looking to change.

39 doubtful

Belichick clearly trusts Patricia, though the fan base must be depressed.  (I've been too scared to look at Pats' BBoards these past two weeks, because geniuses are advancing the "It was Brady all along!" argument as if it were clever.)  

45 Belichick clearly trusts…

In reply to by RickD

Belichick clearly trusts Patricia

Do you have any earthly clue as to why?

Patricia's terrible D and play-calling cost the Pats a ring!

10 Somr will say maybe Raiders…

Somr will say maybe Raiders should cobsider M. Stafford. Team might.  D. Carr took tezm to playoffs so he is proven winner. Raiders can also win with Stafford.  Probably would go 12-5 with Stafford. Maybr 12-5 pr 13-4 with Carr (assuming 17 gamrs reg seaaon).  So answer is yes, Raiders willl cobxustprs

53 I don't know

cobhxustrprs broke my RJ decoder ring and now it's in the shop for the 12th time. 


edit:  SEE, I even spelled cobxustrprs wrong!  I got nothing!

22 He'd be a great fit on the…

He'd be a great fit on the Bucs if Brady retired. Decent fit on the Saints too, but they already have a solid big-armed QB they don't seem to realize is on the roster, and Payton is probably committed to proving how brilliant he is by winning with Taysom Hill. What about Pittsburgh if Roethlisberger retires? That's a win-now roster, and I don't think anyone seriously considers Haskins a replacement for BR.

The Bears would happily take him, but they have no cap room, and I doubt the Lions would trade within the division.

Not sure why Miami would pay heavily for Stafford instead of resigning Fitzpatrick (assuming they did decide Tua was not ready).

But after all that, Colts seem too logical not to happen.

30 Stafford to the Bucs makes…

Stafford to the Bucs makes the most sense. It's a perfect pairing of skill set to scheme plus talent. 


I think if Stafford cared about numbers and making pro bowl teams, and I would not begrudge him at all if he does, the Saints and the Bucs make the most sense. 

The Colts are a place tailor made for the quarterback to win as a complimentary piece. They are too light on skill talent to put up massive numbers, but at least they are so competent everywhere that Stafford wouldn't have to feel like he was running through quicksand every single week

37 Their skill talent didn't…

Their skill talent didn't match up that great with Rivers's skill set. Rivers really struggled to utilize TY Hilton especially even though he was open a lot. Even if Stafford isn't actually better, I think it would be a better fit. As long as they can get a solid tackle in draft or FA, would love to see it.

38 I am not sure I agree. A…

I am not sure I agree. A quick look shows Steelers are estimated 25 million over the cap.  Ben retiring would free up 19 million.  Staffords hit would be ~21 million.

Assuming that their plan if Ben is willing to come back is either to make cuts elsewhere, or to use mechanisms to make future years pay for the 25 million (this doesn't include draft picks, so really it's probably 30 m +), an extra 2 million for Stafford would certainly be possible.

58 Over the Cap shows the…

Over the Cap shows the Steelers are 35 million over the cap.  The Saints are 112 million over the cap according to that site.  The Bears are only 10 million over the cap for 2021.  The Lions have more cap room than any of those teams, being just under the cap.

With Rivers retiring, the Colts have the second most cap room in the league, with 64 million dollars, just a million more than the Jets.  The Patriots have 57 million,  Washington is fifth in cap space with 35 million.  

42 As a life long Steelers fan,…

As a life long Steelers fan, I would be amazed if they would trade for him.  Elated, but I don't see it happening with this organization.  I think they'll ride BR until he wants to retire, and be happy to try to develop in house.

41 Given that we're talking about the Lions...

Washington is a likely place for him to wind up.  The defense is young and nasty, he'd have decent receivers and fair to good RB's with health, and as wonderful as the Alex Smith comeback story was, Smith is not the one you want to rely on as a starter.

Stafford buys them time to develop a QB, and Detroit would get higher-level picks from them than from Pittsburgh or Indy.

46 Washington is an even bigger…

Washington is an even bigger dumpster fire of ownership than the Lions.

In terms of ownership groups even Lions fans look down upon, the list includes the Bengals, Browns, Chargers, Jags, Jets, and No-names. 

Saints or Bucs would be tailor-made -- they are already designed to escort geriatric QBs into the playoffs. Indy is intriguing. SF or LARM would fit. Chicago is interesting, but cursed by a voodoo curse and Stafford is tired of those (also in play in NO, though). Washington is a shitshow, good defense or not. Pittsburgh would be interesting. NE, too, except they have Patricia and three years was enough of that, and they have zero WR talent.

The advantage of SF and LA are you aren't walking into the shoes of a 1st-ballot HOFer.

47 I don't know, Washington's…

I don't know, Washington's behavior as far as FO hires lately suggests Danny boy is stepping back a bit, but it could also be a smokescreen.  Also, Ron Rivera seems to be a stabilizing influence.  

49 I think Danny's troubles…

I think Danny's troubles with the name, the exploited cheerleaders, the fight with minority ownership, the sexual harrassmemt claims and .... have modulated his obnoxiousness down a bit. And maybe Rivera telling him to stfu

59 I would cross off the Saints…

I would cross off the Saints for any expensive free agent acquisition.  I'm not sure how they will cut 115 million from their cap space, but it will be ugly.  Probably lose both starting corners to begin with.  By the time they are finished getting under the cap they'll not have anything close to a playoff worthy roster with Stafford or anyone else.

The Buccaneers are a possibility if Brady retires.  I believe they get 25 million of room if he does, and they would have more than enough to fit Stafford in.

60 Saints over the cap

There is a post (Jan 20) on ESPN on the Saints page by Mike Triplett that details their plight, and some of the players who could be released/restructured for cap reasons.

Short version: both tackles could get extensions to drop their cap numbers (next year will be the final year on each deal); also CB Lattimore and QB/WR/RB/ST Taysom Hill. These four count for ~$54M against the cap.

The two FA's most likely to be re-signed are FS Marcus Williams and DT Sheldon Rankins. QB Winston might be #3. Hendrickson's 13 sacks make him likely to be too expensive, and TE Jared Cook probably doesn't get a deal for more than minimum--too many fumbles, IMO. 

In the last paragraph, it lists several players who could be cut for cap reasons. I look for some of them to be extended/restructured to lower cap costs, and some to be released without any type of offer. 

71 If this is the article you…

If this is the article (https://www.espn.com/blog/new-orleans-saints/post/_/id/33967/saints-daunting-to-do-list-replace-drew-brees-save-nearly-100-million-in-cap-costs) you are referring to, it doesn't seem like he really figured out how the Saints should or could get under the cap.  The possible extensions are listed in a paragraph, but he doesn't suggest how much real cap relief the Saints could get from them.  

Over the Cap has an article from last Christmas about this, if you are interested: https://overthecap.com/new-orleans-saints-cap-maneuverings-for-2021/

In the article, Neema Hodjat suggests that the Saints are 85 million over the cap if cap projections are optimistic.  The cuts, extensions and trades in the article allow the Saints to cut 90 million from their cap.  That still only gives the Saints 5 million to offer free agents or fit Watson under the cap.  Resigning Williams and Rankins doesn't seem likely to me.