With a new general manager and head coach likely on the way in the next few weeks, all eyes will be on franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and whether his future will remain in Detroit. Though Stafford still has two years remaining on his contract, his contract is moveable in 2021. Combine that with a team holding a top-seven draft pick, and it makes some logical sense for the next general manager to consider moving to a younger, cheaper quarterback—even if it ends up costing them $19 million in dead cap.
But if Stafford is planning on moving on from Detroit or thinks the Lions may move on from him, he wasn’t showing it on Sunday evening after the Lions’ 37-35 season finale loss to the Vikings.
“Obviously can’t speak into the future, but I don’t think about it at the moment,” Stafford said in his post-game interview.
Stafford put up one of his better performances on Sunday, beating up on a young, injured Vikings secondary to the tune of 293 yards, three touchdowns and a 114.0 passer rating. But like so many prior Stafford stunning performances, it wasn’t enough to overcome a horrible Lions defense.
The closest the Lions quarterback came to addressing his future was simply acknowledging that he and the team had some decisions to make down the road.
“I have two years left on my deal here, so there’s a lot to discuss,” Stafford said. “I’ll obviously keep that between my family and I and all that, but we’ll figure it out at some other date I’m sure.”
After the game, former teammate and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky tweeted that he thinks the Lions and Stafford should mutually part.
“Today should be the final game for Matthew Stafford in a @Lions uniform,” Orlovsky said. “He goes down as one of the franchises best players, & certainly one that represented the city of Detroit & its people as well as anyone. He needs a new home-let him leave...The Lions need a full reboot.”
Though Stafford hadn’t seen the comments, he responded to them the same way he does any speculation about his future.
“I really don’t pay too much attention to it,” Stafford said. “I just go about my business and go about my day-to-day and try to help this team win. All of those kinds of things, in my mind, will figure themselves out and we’ll go from there. Everybody has their right to their opinion. I know Dan well, he’s a good friend of mine, but to me, don’t pay too much attention to it.”
One major factor that could play into Stafford’s future with the Lions is simply his willingness to sit through more losing seasons. At 5-11, the Lions don’t look like a team that is just an offseason away from competing for a Super Bowl or even a division title. And after a fourth straight season of missing the playoffs, Stafford admits the losing hasn’t gotten any easier.
“It’s hard every time,” Stafford said. “Difficult, disappointing, all of those words come to mind. I want to win. I want to be in those games more than anything.”
So like every offseason, we’ll just have to wait and wade through countless offseason rumors about the future of Stafford in Detroit. But for now, that was a pretty good note to go out on.