I can’t believe I’m writing this.
Matthew Stafford has been the focal point of the Detroit Lions for over a decade, yet barring a surprise, it appears as though we have seen the last of Stafford in Detroit. The organization, fresh off a front office overhaul, will now have to decide what to do with the star quarterback. The defining move of Brad Holmes’ career could very well happen within the first few months of his tenure.
Detroit is in a tough situation, sitting at seventh overall in the draft. A top quarterback prospect is no guarantee at that spot, and the question arises if Detroit will attempt to trade up—and what they would have to give up to do so. Unless I am extremely underestimating the quarterback market, Stafford should net at least a first round pick. Although the likes of Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson are on the market, they figure to be far more expensive to acquire, salary-wise and asset-wise, respectively. Stafford presents a fantastic option for a team that is a quarterback away from competing for far less cost.
In a year with a surprising amount of quarterback questions, there are plenty of potential fits for Stafford. The Chicago Bears are among the most desperate for a quarterback, but Detroit trading him to a division rival would be insane. As mentioned, Prescott is a pending free agent for the Cowboys, and there is the chance they could let him walk, bold as that may be. Watson, meanwhile, is almost certainly playing elsewhere in 2021, which opens up a position of need for the Texans.
Many legends of the league are facing retirement questions, and Stafford could be a plug-and-play option for a team trying to stay competitive. The Buccaneers (Tom Brady), Saints (Drew Brees), Colts (Philip Rivers), and Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger) are each in the market for younger quarterbacks. Rivers has already retired, Brees is looking like he will, Roethlisberger is an unknown, and Brady might hang it up after another Super Bowl run. Throw in Atlanta possibly moving on from Matt Ryan, and there could be a lot of changes around the league.
Teams still needing a quarterback include the Jets (owners of the second and 23rd overall picks), the Panthers (eighth overall), Broncos (ninth overall), 49ers (12th overall), Patriots (15th overall), and Football Team (19th overall). There is no shortage of valuable trade assets for Detroit to consider.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which team will Matthew Stafford play for in 2021?
My answer: I think Stafford will play for the Broncos. Drew Lock has shown very little during his time as a starter, quite obviously the weakest link on an otherwise talented team. Their new general manager, George Paton, was previously with the Minnesota Vikings, so one could imagine he knows what Stafford is capable of.
The return for Stafford would certainly include the ninth overall pick, and I could also foresee a second rounder this year and perhaps a first or second next year. If it comes down to a bidding war for Stafford, I think Denver could win it. Of the teams before them in the draft, Jacksonville is likely taking Trevor Lawrence, the Jets would likely ask a lot for the second overall pick, and Carolina might be content with Teddy Bridgewater for another year for the cost to acquire Stafford. Denver’s biggest competition would be San Francisco and Washington, both of which would have to offer up more picks and assets to offset their lower order in the draft.
The Broncos need to make a move to compete in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs figure to be a powerhouse for at least the next few years. The Los Angeles Chargers have a bright future ahead of them. The Las Vegas Raiders are a dark horse. Acquiring Stafford could help Denver compete in a competitive division. For the Lions, meanwhile, you could get a sizable return, and use those assets to rebuild or move up in the draft.