Open thread: Do you regret the Matthew Stafford trade?

Pride of Detroit

Matthew Stafford is a Super Bowl champion.

Those were words many Detroit Lions fans were hoping to usher under different circumstances. For over a decade, Stafford was the key cog in the Lions offense. If they were going to make a Super Bowl run, it would be with him.

They didn’t.

For a myriad of reasons, the Lions could never even muster a mere playoff victory, let alone a Super Bowl championship. With another rebuild looming on the horizon, both parties agreed it was time to part. Stafford went out west, with Jared Goff and a collection of draft picks returning to the Motor City. By all accounts, it was a fair deal for both sides: the Lions got the capital to rebuild, while the Rams got their quarterback for a Super Bowl run.

At the time, 67 percent of NFL fans thought the Lions won the trade. They received a reclamation project or bridge quarterback in Jared Goff. They added a pair of first-round picks and a third to boot. That third-round pick quickly turned into cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, but the Lions had to wait and see with regards to their future firsts.

However, more than a year removed from the trade, have your thoughts changed?

Firstly, the only non-pick headed to Detroit had an up-and-down year. Goff looked like the quarterback the Rams desperately needed to upgrade early in the season. The indecisions and struggles were front and center, but things started clicking post-bye—injuries aside, of course. Where Goff stands heading into 2022 is difficult to say, be it as the starter or the mentor for another.

As for Melifonwu, he was limited due to injury, but certainly flashed promise. With him, Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, Jerry Jacobs, and AJ Parker, the Lions have a young secondary eager to learn under Aaron Glenn.

With Stafford and the Rams emerging victorious in the Super Bowl, the 2022 first-round pick is locked in at 32nd overall, the last pick in the round. For Lions fans, this is obviously the worst-case scenario. Whereas the Colts ended up trading the 16th overall pick for Carson Wentz, the Lions got no sure middling performance from the Rams. Although the Rams have cap concerns heading into next season—as well as pondering the possible retirement of Aaron Donald and Andrew Whitworth—they should still be a top team in 2022.

Then there is the question of alternative options.

Along with the option of keeping Stafford for the rebuild, a trade offer that circulated the Twitter-sphere was from the Carolina Panthers. They were (supposedly) offering the eighth-overall pick in 2021—the pick immediately after Detroit’s—Teddy Bridgewater, and a fifth round pick for Stafford. Mike Payton did an excellent breakdown of that trade, so I’d highly recommend looking at that for specifics. The latest report out of Charlotte is that it was only the eighth overall pick and Bridgewater.

The eighth overall pick is certainly valuable, and the Lions could have jumped at the opportunity to add another playmaker right away. However, the two future firsts had the potential to exceed it in value. The key word is potential. The 32nd pick is the lowest it could have become, and the Lions will need a down year from the Rams to match the value of a top-ten pick.

Eighth overall has a trade value of 1400, per the NFL Trade Value Chart. The 32nd pick has a value of 590, and when factoring in the mid-round picks, the Lions would need the 2023 Rams pick to land somewhere between 700 and 800 to break even. That happens to be the difference between 21st overall and 26th overall. If the Rams miss the playoffs, the math likely works out in Detroit’s favor. If the Rams go on another deep postseason run, then the Rams got the statistical better deal. While this trade also compares Jared Goff versus Teddy Bridgewater, that is tougher to put into numerical values.

Do you wish the Lions had stuck with Stafford? Do you wish they had taken the Panthers offer instead? Are you happy with the Stafford deal despite the late draft pick this year?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Do you regret the Matthew Stafford trade?

My answer: No.

Many doubted whether Stafford was a “Super Bowl-caliber” quarterback, an incredibly broad critique often assigned to quarterbacks without playoff success. In Los Angeles, Stafford and the Rams won a Super Bowl. Whether you give credit to Stafford or Sean McVay or Donald or Cooper Kupp, the fact remains that Stafford was able to win a Super Bowl in his first season out of Detroit.

Is there a chance the Lions could have rebounded with him under center in 2021? Perhaps, but seeing Stafford lift the Lombardi Trophy mainly fills me with regret about what could have been. Once upon a time, the Lions had a roster with a dominant receiver and defensive tackle, but it fell apart. A part of me will always wish he finished his career in Detroit, but I’m happy that he was able to win regardless.

I can’t be upset with the Rams trade. Right now, it is a win-TBD in favor of the Rams. They went for broke and it paid off. Even if they collapse in 2022, that trade netted them a Super Bowl.

As for the Lions, you cannot properly grade this trade. Not only do the Lions still have that 2023 first waiting in the wings, but the draft picks have yet to materialize into anything definitive. Who knows what the 32nd pick will bring? Who knows what kind of career Melifonwu will have? Who knows how the Rams will perform next season? Additionally, I don’t think the Lions could have gotten more in return for Stafford.

I think the Rams trade still gave the Lions the best chance to rebuild. The Rams capitalized on their end of the trade. Now it’s time for the Lions to do the same.

Your turn.


Do you regret the Matthew Stafford trade?

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