DETROIT - NOVEMBER 25: Shaun Hill #14 of the Detroit Lions looks for a open reciever while playing the New England Patriots on November 25 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Casey writes: With all the uncertainty of the CBA and free agency and the number of teams with a need at QB, what do you think the chances are Martin Mayhew could trade Shaun Hill, and what might the Lions be able to get for him? With teams like Seattle, Arizona and Washington still needing QBs and teams like Cincinnati, Carolina and Tennessee all having the use for a veteran quarterback to help the rookies, it would seem to me a player like Shaun Hill might actually have some value on the market. With Drew Stanton playing the best he ever has at the end of last season, he could move into the backup role fairly easily.
If fans take anything away from the 2010 season, it should be that you don't undervalue the importance of quarterback depth. Yes, the injuries Lions QBs suffered involved a lot of bad luck, but the fact of the matter is they had problems staying healthy. Is it entirely possible that Matthew Stafford will make it through 2011 without any issues and Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton will never see the field? Of course it is, but there's no guarantee that will happen.
There is also no guarantee that Stanton would be able to stay on the field if Stafford were to go down again. Stanton has had injury issues dating all the way back to his time at Michigan State. He has shown he can lead the Lions' offense, but can he be relied upon to stay healthy if Stafford is hurt? I don't think that's a risk you want to take.
While I'm sure Martin Mayhew could find a team willing to give up a future draft pick for Hill, I don't see the value in making a trade. Unless a general manager loses his mind and offers a lot more than he should, there is no way the Lions should part ways with Hill. At this point it isn't about who can play and who can't. We know all three Lions QBs are competent enough to lead the offense if they have to. What's important is having all three guys around in case injury issues arise again in 2011.
Think about it this way: Detroit needs one win to clinch a playoff spot. Stafford suffered an injury the week before and Stanton was knocked out early in the make it or break it game. Now the Lions have to pin their hopes on Zac Robinson, and whether or not their playoff drought continues all comes down to a guy that has never seen the field before. The only consolation is that the Lions have an additional third-day pick in the 2012 draft because they traded Hill. That's not a very good deal, is it?
If this were a few years ago and the Lions were a team in need of simply adding as much talent as they can, I wouldn't have a huge issue with the idea of trading a guy like Hill. The Lions aren't a team in that position anymore, though. They are potentially on the verge of finally turning this franchise around, and the value just isn't there to deal Hill. No team is going to give up enough for him to make a deal worthwhile.
The other factors in this are the player Hill is backing up and the player that would take his spot as backup if he were traded. This isn't a situation where Stafford had one freak injury after years of not missing a start. This also isn't a situation where Stanton has only had some wear and tear that is normal for an NFL quarterback. Both players have had multiple injuries in relatively short careers, and neither has proven he can stay healthy for a lengthy period of time. The same goes for Hill based on what happened last season, which is exactly why the Lions need to retain all three QBs.
There's no telling if injuries will once again torment Lions quarterbacks in 2011. Because they can't be ruled out, however, letting go of Hill, or Stanton for that matter, would be a mistake. This team is close enough to something big that they can't afford to let their season fall apart over the injury bug, which is why depth is so important. Obviously no matter who is plugged in after Stafford is going to be an enormous downgrade, but think about that scenario I presented earlier. Can you imagine the downgrade from Stanton/Hill to a guy that's never even played before, especially in a potentially pressure packed situation? It'd be pretty dumb to put yourself in that position because you wanted to acquire a future late-round draft pick. It's just not worth it for the Lions.