There is an active debate about whether Matthew Stafford will be the Detroit Lions’ starting quarterback in 2020 (hint: he should). However, there is another important opening at the quarterback position: backup.
For many years, Stafford was the one and only quarterback Lions fans got to witness on Sundays. However, this past season, the importance of a backup quarterback reared its head. Stafford would miss the last half of the season with a back injury, and it was up to the backups to save the season.
Jeff Driskel—who suffered his own injury—and David Blough could not muster a single win over the 2019 season. Now with 2020 in sight, the question remains:
Who will be the Lions’ backup quarterback next season?
My answer: There are a few reasonable options to explore.
As Jeremy Reisman covered back in January, only Stafford, Blough, and Kyle Sloter are signed for next season. Their easiest option would be to roll with those three. Re-signing Driskel is also a valid option and, despite the losses, he showcased some arm and leg talent to garner another shot.
Elsewhere, the draft could be a building point. The Lions could spend their valuable third overall pick on Tua Tagovailoa and sit him for a year to ensure he recovers properly. The more likely option is to draft a later-round prospect. Day 3 is perhaps the ideal spot to draft a developmental quarterback, but if they have concerns about Stafford, then a Round 2 or 3 quarterback isn’t out of the question. Ideally though, these valuable assets will be spent elsewhere on a depleted roster.
Free agency is ripe with talent. Obviously, the likes of Drew Brees and Tom Brady won’t be joining the Lions, but a quarterback like Marcus Mariota could give them a backup with starting talent. The question of veteran leadership and experience versus potential will be an important decision for the Lions.
Overall, I believe the best course of action for the Lions will try to re-sign Driskel. Here’s hoping Stafford remains healthy in 2020, making this a moot point.