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Report: Detroit Lions nearly traded Matthew Stafford to Panthers

Looks like Stafford was nearly headed down south.

Carolina Panthers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

More details are emerging about the Detroit Lions’ process of trading Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams and the other teams involved in talks. Albert Breer, who ran through some of Detroit’s most prominent offers on Monday, provided even more detail later in the week.

According to Breer, there was one other team that nearly got Stafford over the Rams: the Carolina Panthers. Negotiations had gotten so close to being consummated that the Panthers were in the process of getting Stafford’s medical reports in order—one of the final processes of a trade.

“I’m told the Panthers, at one point on Saturday, were to the point where they were in the process of obtaining Stafford’s medicals from Detroit,” Breer wrote. “Obviously, things changed from there, with the Rams’ persistence and aggression winning the day. But if you figured the Panthers’ haul for Stafford was strong—the eighth pick, plus another pick—then I’d say the sellers in this equation would agree with you, because they almost took it.”

If the Lions and Panthers were truly this close to striking it deal, it seems to run counter to the report from former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, who suggested Matthew Stafford nixed at trade to Carolina.

“I’ve been told by a very reliable source that, yeah, he kind of squashed the Carolina thing,” Simms said on PFT Live Monday, per MLive. “So I don’t think he wanted that to happen. He was kind of steering this conversation into a team where he felt comfortable and wanted to play for and live there, and I think that’s where the Rams really made a lot of sense for Stafford.”

Stafford didn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, and while Lions head coach Dan Campbell acknowledged that Stafford would be consulted on trades, he also told the Detroit Free Press “we’re going to find the best value for the Detroit Lions and what’s best for us.”

If trade talks had truly progressed as far as Breer implies, you would have to imagine they had already received Stafford’s blessing.

Regardless, the deal the Lions eventually turned down was reportedly the eighth overall pick and a later pick. The value of that first-round pick could turn out to be more than the two first-round picks Detroit acquired from the Rams. Per the famous NFL Draft trade chart, that eighth overall pick is worth the same as two picks at 26th overall.

However, the Panthers deal may have been missing another key piece. Per Breer, a quarterback in return was a key piece of the deal, and it’s unclear if Carolina ever put Teddy Bridgewater on the table or if the Lions were even interested in him. Instead, the Lions got Jared Goff, a player they are more than familiar with.

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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.