ESPN added more fuel to the “Trade Matthew Stafford” fire this week with a unnamed NFL executive predicting that the Detroit Lions will move their franchise quarterback this offseason.
As a result, head coach Matt Patricia again faced questions about the future of his quarterback this week, and like he has all season, he staunchly defended Stafford.
“Matthew Stafford’s an unbelievable quarterback, he’s our quarterback,” Patricia told media on Friday. “He’s been fighting and battling and playing hard and leading this team throughout the entire course of the season. We’ll obviously just keep working and progressing and trying grow and get better next year, and hopefully we can do some things to help him.”
Stafford is having one of his worst statistical years in his career. His yards per attempt (6.7) is the lowest in his career for a full season, his passer rating is the lowest in five years, and he has yet to mount a fourth-quarter comeback this season—something he has done at least once in each season of his career.
But Patricia has been unwavering of his support all year, and he didn’t hesitate to say that he wants Stafford around next season.
“Yeah,” Patricia said. “We’re in a situation where Matthew Stafford is our quarterback. That’s what it is. I think the world of the guy. I think he’s an unbelievable competitor. I think he’s a great player, and I’ve got to do everything I can to try to help him as much as possible.”
Of course, the unspoken truth is that the Lions are likely tethered to Stafford, even if Patricia didn’t support him. Cutting him or trading him this upcoming offseason would accelerate his signing bonus all to 2019’s salary cap, and would actually cost the Lions more in cap room than if they just kept him for another season.
But it’s also important to remember that it is the current general manager Bob Quinn who gave him that contract, demonstrating an exuberant amount of confidence in the franchise quarterback. Combine that with Patricia’s relentless praise of Stafford, and it seems highly unlikely Stafford is going anywhere in 2019.