| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions get Christmas gifts; is win over Tom Brady in their stocking?
Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez hand out gifts for the Detroit Lions, and predict the game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
The next Detroit Lions general manager will have a decision to make about Matthew Stafford’s future, and one person who has interviewed for the job said it will be an easy decision to make.
ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said on “Get Up” this week that Stafford should stay as Lions quarterback in 2021 and beyond.
“Matthew Stafford should be sitting right where he is,” Riddick said. “They build around him, Detroit’ll be just fine. Does that answer your question?”
Stafford, who turns 33 in February, has been the subject of persistent trade speculation since the end of last season, when he fractured bones in his back that kept him out of the final eight games.
The Lions finished 3-12-1 and had the third pick of the draft, but passed on young quarterbacks Justin Herbert, the presumptive Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Tua Tagovailoa.
Stafford put his house up for sale shortly after the draft, and though the house was taken off the market, trade speculation has lingered throughout the season.
The Lions, at 5-9, are in line for another top-10 — and possibly top-five — draft pick, where they could take a top quarterback prospect like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, and they are headed for an offseason of change after the firing of head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.
Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said last month that the new hires will decide Stafford’s future in Detroit, and part of the decision might be how big of a rebuild project they see this team.
Stafford, who is playing through rib and thumb injuries, has two years left on his contract and would carry a dead cap number of around $20 million if he’s traded this offseason.
They have serious holes to fill at the wide receiver positions and throughout the defense this offseason, and likely will need to extend him in the next 20 or so months if they intend to build with him beyond 2021.
Stafford, who has suffered through two coaching and one general manager change already in Detroit, declined to discuss his future last month, saying he would talk about it at the end of the season. But one of his good friends, ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, suggested on Twitter that a parting of ways might be in the best interests for Stafford, who many around the NFL agree has never gotten the respect he deserves because he plays in Detroit.
“I think (it is the) same old story,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said this week. “It’s winning. You can be a great player, if your team’s not winning, you’re not going to get what you deserve, and he deserves a lot.”
SCOUTING REPORT: Lions vs. Buccaneers: Dave Birkett’s prediction
Riddick is one of seven people known to have interviewed for the Lions GM job, along with in-house candidates Kyle O’Brien, Lance Newmark and Rob Lohman, and former GMs Rick Smith, Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli.
On “Get Up,” host Mike Greenberg asked reporter Adam Schefter if Stafford might be a candidate to play for the New England Patriots next season.
Schefter said Stafford’s future “is uncertain” because the new faces that will be running the team, then asked Riddick, another panelist on the show, how he would view Stafford.
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“Look, Matthew Stafford’s a good quarterback,” Riddick said. “Matthew Stafford’s a real good quarterback. He needs some pieces. He’s got a good left tackle, good offensive center, two good running backs. They got some issues at wide receiver as far as unrestricted free agency is concerned.”
The Lions have one receiver under contract for 2021, rookie Quintez Cephus. Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Jamal Agnew, Mohamed Sanu and top receiver Kenny Golladay all will be unrestricted free agents in March.
Golladay will miss his 10th game of the season Saturday because of lingering hip injury. Stafford will start despite his injuries.