In my recent article on Lions 2011 free agents I introduced the idea that the Lions may be willing to part ways with Drew Stanton if the price were right. If the truth were to be told, most of the players on the Lions would be available to other teams for the right price. Sure, guys like Ndamakong Suh, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Kyle VandenBosch are likely to be nearly untouchable. But we cannot seriously say that if another team offered a first round draft pick for Drew Stanton, that the Lions would not trade him.
The real question is what the Lions would demand in return for Stanton to pull the trigger on a trade. Sure, he is a solid third string quarterback. But most teams will never see the third string quarterback take the field for a significant number of plays in a season. The fact that the Lions have used Stanton is directly related to the injuries to the top two quarterbacks in the past two seasons.
Many fans might be tempted to claim that the injuries of Stafford have been because of a poor offensive line. There might be some truth to that in prior seasons. But the Lions offensive line was pretty darned good at pass blocking in 2010. The Lions finished at the sixth best total in the NFL for fewest sacks given up and number ten in fewest quarterback hits surrendered.
Sure, you can point at specific plays that resulted in a big hit on the quarterback. But those are going to happen to every team. The Giants and Colts have the best pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL, but both of the Manning boys have taken some big shots this season. It is only fate that has kept them from getting seriously hurt on those plays.
I am satisfied that the injuries to Matthew Stafford are a bit of a fluke. He did not display injury problems at Georgia despite getting hit hard there. He has fallen on his shoulders with 300+ pound defensive linemen driving him to the ground before without getting hurt. Stafford should be able to put the injuries behind him and stay more healthy in the future. The law of averages demands it. Either that or the Lions need to take a really good look at their turf.
You can also bet that Shaun Hill will stay healthier as well. It is freaky that Hill would break his forearm, return from the injury, then break his finger. How many times has that happened to Hill in his career? It has happened just once, in 2010. It isn't likely to happen again.
NFL teams get better by taking calculated risks. The risk here is betting that you will not need your third string quarterback as much in the future as you have the past couple of seasons. I think that is a reasonable risk. If that is the case, then it makes little sense to sacrifice a player that could be a starter so that you can have an insurance policy on the bench that you might not even use.
Teams win by putting as many guys on the field that can make an impact for as long as they can. If the Lions could get a second round draft pick for Stanton, it is likely that they can parlay that into a player that will be on the field and making an impact toward winning.
The biggest problem with putting Stanton up for bid is actually having a team offer you a second round pick. Sure, that is not going to be easy to get. But we are about to see if the demand is there because of the Denver Broncos demand for a second round pick for Kyle Orton. If Orton attracts several teams that are willing to part with a second round pick for him, that would signal some potential for getting one of those picks for Stanton.
How NFL teams will rate Stanton against Orton has a big impact on the ability to get the second round pick. Kyle Orton has certainly gotten more starting experience, but he has hardly lit the NFL on fire when he has had the opportunity. There is a legitimate argument that Stanton has more upside than Orton because he has not really gotten the chance to be "the guy" and develop to his full potential.
It could be argued that Stanton is a lower risk than drafting a college quarterback with a second round pick and trying to develop them. Stanton has seen NFL action and responded reasonably well. You have no idea how a college kid will respond to the speed and ferocity of the NFL game.
So the Lions should watch the offers for Orton closely and see who is bidding. Those are the teams that might give a second round pick for Stanton. It just makes sense to get a guy that will be making a difference on the field more often. There are plenty of guys available that can play third string quarterback. I wouldn't put it past Mayhew to pull this off either.