On Saturday morning, reports from several sources suggested the Detroit Lions had seven or eight offers on the table for a Matthew Stafford trade, all of which included a first-round pick. By the time the day was over, the Lions had a much more lucrative deal: two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Jared Goff. They jumped on the deal and the rest was history.
But what caused such an enormous spike in compensation for Detroit? What happened between Saturday morning and around 10 p.m. ET when the deal was finally struck with the Los Angeles Rams?
On Monday, a pair of columns around the NFL provided a little clarity. First, Pro Football Talk’s Peter King had a big story on the trade, and had some eye-popping information about how Detroit decided on the Rams’ offer and details on what else was out there.
King suggests Jared Goff was an essential piece to the trade, and was even a part of the Rams’ initial offer: Goff + their third-round pick (89th overall). He corroborated some other reports that the Lions view Goff not just as a bridge quarterback, but the potential starter for the future.
As director of college scouting for the Rams when Goff was picked in 2016, Holmes favored him inside the Rams draft room—and still does, I’m told. Campbell, I’m also told, liked Goff not just as a bridge quarterback but as the Lions quarterback of the future.
Then comes this bomb: Per King, the Lions had another offer that included two first-round picks on the table. King does not name the team, however.
Which leads us to the other detailed story on the trade, this one from MMQB’s Albert Breer. Breer tells an interesting tale about how Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay ended the night by toasting to each other in person, because the two were miraculously together in Los Cabos, Mexico at the time—along with a handful of other NFL players.
But more notable for Lions fans, Breer breaks down some exact offers the Lions had on the table. Here’s what he notes about nine different teams interested in Stafford:
- Rams initial offer was a 2022 first-round pick, Goff and an additional pick
- Washington Football Team offered their first-round pick (19th overall) + a third rounder
- Carolina Panthers offered their first-round pick (8th overall) + a later pick
- Indianapolis Colts offered packages of picks and players, but never their first-round pick (21st)
- San Francisco 49ers never made an official offer, but Breer believes the 12th overall pick was not going to be on the table
- Broncos discussed a pick-swap equating to a late first-round pick.
- Patriots and Bears both “checked in.” New England offered a second-round pick and a player
- Jets also “checked in.” When the Lions approached on Saturday, talks didn’t progress far
There are a couple things to sift through here. First, if Breer’s reporting is accurate, it doesn’t look like the Lions truly had eight teams with a first-round pick on the table. It was more likely in the neighborhood of four or five.
Secondly, there doesn’t seem to be an agreement between Breer and King on this mystery two first-round pick offer from another team. It’s possible that team was the Chicago Bears, which would explain why the Lions turned it down. However, the Bears just got a small, passing mention in Breer’s story, so even that seems unlikely.
Lastly, based on Breer’s reporting, it appears the best offer on the table the Lions didn’t choose was the Panthers’ eighth overall pick plus more. As noted in Breer’s story, the eighth overall pick is essentially as valuable as two 26th overall picks, according to the famous Jimmy Johnson draft pick trade charts. But some argue that getting a pick today is worth more than getting picks down the line. So the addition of Goff and a third-round pick almost certainly sealed the deal for the Rams.
Obviously, with stories like this, not everything is going to be 100 percent accurate. Teams will float information out there for the sake of making themselves look better or, in some cases, to make other teams look worse. Overall, even with all this information out there, it’s hard not to look at the deal the Lions got as pretty darn lucrative.