As the Detroit Lions seem to be circling the drain again, these five teams could make an offseason trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
For a brief time a couple weeks ago, the Detroit Lions were 3-3 and looked like they could push to pay off some preseason sleeper team hype. But they’ve lost two in a row since then by less than competitive margins, to the Indianapolis Colts (41-21) and Minnesota Vikings (34-20).
The Lions are a rudderless ship, and Matt Patricia’s defense is among the worst in the league again. With a 12-27-1 record now, Patricia is almost surely out at the conclusion of his third season in Detroit. General manager Bob Quinn, who fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 season with a 36-28 record to go back to his New England roots to hire Patricia, is likely to be gone with his handpicked head coach.
As the Lions likely move forward with a new GM and head coach, there’s a significant piece that may not have a place in a reset/rebuild. Quarterback Matthew Stafford will turn 33 in February, and he’s under contract through 2022 (2023 is a voidable/dummy year). He had a rough week heading into and during the Week 9 game against the Vikings, from COVID-19 concerns leading to him having to isolate, to his daughter having a fall at home and finally to a head injury during the game.
Trade speculation surfaced around Stafford early last offseason, as there were opposing coaches and general managers (naturally) who thought he wanted out of Detroit. Within the Lions “family,” everyone from Patricia to Stafford’s wife dismissed the reports.
A new regime may want to keep Stafford as a placeholder for a quarterback it will draft next April. But a deal to send Stafford elsewhere would add draft capital for a roster reload, and if that rebuild is coming, Stafford may ask to be traded without anyone having to dismiss the speculation. As Spotrac cites, an out to cut Stafford next March would leave behind $24.85 million in dead money. A trade would leave behind $19 million in dead money for Detroit and clear $14 million in cap space (according to Over The Cap). A trade made official after June 1, 2021 makes the dead money $13 million.
These five teams could make an offseason trade for Stafford.
Washington Football Team
Washington hired Ron Rivera to change their culture, and that seems to be on a good track. But with the Dwayne Haskins experiment on its last legs, there is a question at quarterback going forward. Free agency and the draft will offer some good options, assuming they don’t go ahead and win the NFC East and take themselves out of the conversation for the top prospects in the 2021 class.
A reported run at wide receiver Amari Cooper in free agency last offseason shows Rivera is in the win-now business. The NFC East will surely remain wide open next year, as the Dallas Cowboys answer their own possible quarterback question and the Philadelphia Eagles try to stay out of their own way.
Washington currently has the fifth-most projected cap space for 2021 right now ($51.96 million, via Over The Cap). So they can take on Stafford’s contract and add a capable veteran quarterback for the next couple years as they consider a future plan under center.