Detroit Lions MythBusters! Trading Matthew Stafford?


Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Every time a team starts the season off at the bottom of the league, fans start calling for heads to roll. The Detroit Lions are no exception, and fans have called for either isolated or mass firings, anything to hold someone accountable to the embarrassing start to the season.  Recent firings like the one in Miami show that it is possible, while a handful of big name players get cut or traded every year.  Most believe that anything is possible.  The problem is that it is never, ever that simple.  We’re going to take a look at some of the big myths that I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned either on social media or even national sites, and why they are, indeed, myths.

Trade Matthew Stafford!

Coming off what was probably his worst game since his rookie season, fans are already clamoring for a Matthew Stafford trade.  Likewise, people want to unload Calvin Johnson, netting picks they believe will be essential for a rebuild they feel certain is coming.  Golden Tate was mentioned recently by the Baltimore Ravens own website as a potential trade target.  I’m sure there are others, but these three in particular are important because they are completely, totally, and utterly impossible.

Not improbable, as in unlikely to happen, but impossible, as in it is something that by any stretch of the imagination simply cannot happen at this point in time.  Why impossible?  It all comes down to how the NFL works their cap structure and how these players’ contracts are built in 2015.  There are two parts to why it’s impossible for these trades to happen; it is either impossible for the Detroit Lions or it is impossible for any team trying to trade for them.

Let’s look at Stafford first since that seems to be the hot topic.  Using as a reference, Stafford clocks in with a high 17.721 million dollar cap hit.  That’s a big number to eat on it’s own, but the team that would trade for him would ‘only’ need to take on his salary, which unprorated would be 9.5 million.  The Lions would eat the guarantees so that means it’s in the 8 million area, right?  They’d get cap space?

Not so fast.  You see, the team trying to trade the player away, in this case the Detroit Lions, would have to prorate his remaining guaranteed money INCLUDING the years remaining on the contract.  All told, the Lions would have to eat 19.221 million dollars in dead money against their 2015 (present year) salary cap.  you may notice that this number is larger than his present cap hit, which means the team would actually have to PAY 1.5 million just to have the privilege of losing their starting quarterback.

That’s insane.  Especially when you consider the fact that the Detroit Lions don’t even have that much money in present cap space to begin with, meaning they can’t even afford to trade him, just like I don’t presently have enough money in my wallet for a new Cadillac. So it’s impossible for the Detroit Lions to offload Matthew Stafford, but let’s pretend for a second it would be possible.  What about the team trying to take him on?

That is a list of the available cap space for all NFL teams, courtesy of  If you remember before, the Detroit Lions would be off the hook for the remaining amount of Stafford’s 9.5 million dollar salary, but his new team would have to take that on.  Based on those numbers, you can basically write off 21 NFL teams, who couldn’t afford to put Matthew Stafford on their roster.  The remaining 11?  Eight have recently spent a high draft pick on a quarterback.  Of the remaining three, two already have established starters they wouldn’t be willing to part with.  The final team, San Francisco, recently signed their QB to a huge contract, making him impossible to move.  That would leave them with two high priced quarterbacks if they made the trade (If, again, it were even possible).  So not only is a Matthew Stafford trade impossible for the Detroit Lions, it’s impossible for any team that could even make a trade for him. Stafford could be the best QB in the universe, or throw an interception with every single pass, and he’d be impossible to move. But what about the other players on the roster?  Calvin Johnson?  Golden Tate?

Next: Joe Lombardi's Time May Be Up

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