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Top 3 destinations for an unlikely Matthew Stafford trade

Where could Stafford land if the Lions make a bold mid-season move.

New Orleans Saints v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions 2020 season is all but over. They are 1-3, and it seems like there is only a matter of time until Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn are shown the door. A rebuild is imminent for the Lions, and that could also mean that one other big change is on the way.

As much as everyone hates to think about it, Matthew Stafford’s time in Detroit could be coming to a close. If the team really wants to get aggressive—and if Quinn gets axed before the trade deadline because there is no way he makes this move—the Lions could move Stafford midseason to a desperate team.

Trading away Stafford will come with a huge price tag for the Lions, but one they can live with for half of a season. If the Lions deal Stafford away midseason then they will still be on the hook for a ton of cash. Per Spotrac’s transaction tool, they will only open up $7.7 million of Stafford’s $22.6 million cap hit if he is dealt today—plus they incur hefty $24.9 million in dead cap in 2021.

But the cost may be worth it if the return is right in a trade scenario. There are a few teams that look like they could make, and even compete in, the playoffs this year, but have issues at quarterback.

It is also fun to run through these trade scenarios, and it is not like anything else fun is happening with this team right now.

Here are a few teams that could use Stafford, and may be able to pay a huge sum for his services mid-season.

Dallas Cowboys

Stafford to Dallas feels like an obvious marriage. The Lions quarterback would be returning home, getting to play the latter half of his career in the city the produced him. Dallas is in a weird spot at quarterback as well.

Dak Prescott — who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5 — may never play for the team again. He will be a free agent in 2021, and a team that would not give him the long-term contract he desired when he was playing at an elite level will likely not do so now that he has suffered a devastating injury—no matter what Jerry Jones is saying in the immediate wake of the injury.

Andy Dalton, who is serving in relief of Prescott, is an okay replacement, but if the Cowboys want to compete this year they will need to do better. Despite their 2-3 record, they are still in first place in the division, and should be able to hold off the Philadelphia Eagles, barring a mid-season collapse. Trading for Stafford may be what they need to avoid the collapse.

Stafford fixes their problem for 2020, and they get another two years with him under contract as well, buying them time to fix their quarterback situation long term.

This move would allow Stafford to play in the best offense he has ever been a part of. The Cowboys’ top three receivers — Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb — are a better trio than anyone else can boast. Ezekiel Elliott also headlines a running game that the quarterback has never really had to support him before.

Everything about this move feels perfect if they are willing to pay a high price.

San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC Champions have found themselves in a rough spot this year. They are one of the most beat up teams in the league and now may have a quarterback controversy on their hands after Jimmy Garoppolo was benched in an embarrassing Week 5 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

If San Francisco can figure out the cap implications, then they could make a deal for Stafford this year and get out of Garoppolo’s contract in the 2021 offseason. San Francisco’s championship window looks like it already may be closing, so taking a desperate swing at Stafford to right the ship could be worth it for them.

The 49ers could still realistically win the NFC West, and even earn the top seed in the NFC, but they cannot afford many mistakes three games behind the Seattle Seahawks. Stafford may provide stability for them at the most important position on the field and help them get their season back on track.

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are 3-2, and they have won every game despite their quarterback. Philip Rivers is done. His arm is degraded, and he does not even have enough strength to throw basic out routes. He also forces his entire body into each throw, which cannot be healthy for his 38-year-old shoulders.

Despite their awful quarterback, the Colts could still win the division. The Houston Texans are 1-4 and already fired their head coach. The Jacksonville Jaguars are deep into a rebuild and are fielding a roster devoid of talent. The runaway favorite Tennessee Titans have seen an outbreak of COVID hit their roster so hard they may have to start forfeiting games. It is the Colts’ division for the taking.

Things are setting up perfectly for Indianapolis, but when you are fielding the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, it is easy to see there kinds of opportunities be squandered.

The Colts have the cap room to afford Stafford in 2020, and Rivers is a free agent in 2021, meaning this move will not ruin their cap.

Everything is set up for the Colts, they just need to make sure they do not implode. Stafford can make sure of that if they are willing to pay the price.

Other teams:

Chicago Bears: Chicago is in a similar situation to the Colts. Unfortunately for them, they made a similar trade for Nick Foles last offseason, and having Stafford and Foles on the books for 2021 means they are potentially paying Russell Wilson level money to lose their draft picks paying for quarterbacks that are not going to be there long term. It does not make sense.

Atlanta Falcons: Not sure what Stafford would actually do for them, and they cannot afford him, but a straight up Stafford for Matt Ryan trade would be so dumb, and I would love it so much.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.