Should the Detroit Lions Trade One of their Best?

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Detroit Lions Trade/Cut Matthew Stafford?

The short answer to this one is no, no they cannot. Still, every time a backup in the league (Kirk Cousins and Drew Stanton are popular choices, for reasons I’m sure have nothing to do with green and/or white) does well or Stafford has a bad day statistically (Or a good day, but the team loses), these conversations start.  They aren’t new, but the conversation at least had some weight several years ago before the Lions signed Stafford to an extension.

Since Stafford signed that contract extension, like it or hate it, he’s the Detroit Lions starting quarterback until 2016 at the earliest.  That means no trades, no cuts, nothing.  No, I won’t listen to your counter argument, because here’s the brass tax of the situation:  Stafford’s contract PREVENTS a trade from occurring.  It is financially impossible.

Per OTC, Stafford would result in over $33 million in dead cap if he were traded right now.  His present cap hit is just under $16 million.  For those math savvy amongst you, that is about $17 million OVER what it would cost to keep him.  Trading Stafford would be ludicrous.  I’m not sure it’d even be possible in a scorched earth mentality to trade Stafford.  So I did some digging, and here is who you would have to cut to make room for trading Matthew Stafford: 

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  • Stephen Tulloch
    Glover Quin
    Rob Sims
    DeAndre Levy
    Jason Jones
    Ryan Broyles
    Ashlee Palmer

    And Guess what, folks?  Cutting all those players doesn’t even get you HALF WAY to covering the dead money the Lions would incur by trading their franchise QB in 2014.  Maybe we trade him in 2015, though?  Let him ride out 2014 and trade him then!  Nope.  Cutting all of the players listed above (that are still here) still wouldn’t cover the cost of trading him.

    You don’t have to like Matthew Stafford.  It’s perfectly healthy to point out when his playing style is lax, his accuracy wanes, or when his turnovers spike.  You cannot, however, manufacture millions of dollars and a method to circumvent league rules pertaining to salary cap just to move him off the roster. It would be akin to buying a new car, deciding you don’t like it, and then paying someone twice what it costs to keep it just to take it off your hands (While you’re behind on your mortgage with an empty fridge and now, no car).