Why the Detroit Lions Should Keep Matthew Stafford

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Why keeping Stafford is the right move

So, the Lions could get a couple of chances in the draft plus sign three players similar to the ones we just reviewed, or they could keep Stafford. Although his performance this year has been frustrating at times, Stafford was dealing with multiple injuries through the first half of the season as he was pummeled behind infuriating blocking schemes and play calls from then-offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Polling fans and media around the league, Stafford is at worst a top 15 QB, and closer to top 10 when he’s at his best. There are several problems with letting that sort of production go.

One problem is that a fresh start at quarterback would be no guarantee of the top 15 production that Stafford has provided so far in his career. Mark Sanchez, Brandon Weeden, and Sam Bradford are just a few examples of recent high draft picks that have simply not gotten the job done to this point in their careers. Gambling that a 2nd or 3rd round pick would outperform that production would be a move Kenny Rogers would not approve.

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Another is that there is no guarantee that “the guy” the team would be targeting in the draft would be there at the point it wants him to be. The draft is a surprising and complex animal and, although compensatory picks could be traded this time around and the Lions should have a few, the team cannot rely on a guy like Jacoby Brissett or Carson Wentz being there in the mid rounds because the quarterback play in the bottom half of the league has been so poor. The Rams, the Eagles, the Jets, the 49ers, the Texans, the Bills, and the Browns are just a few of the teams that one would expect to target a quarterback in the top half of the draft.

Finally, the players the Lions could get with Stafford’s money this offseason are middling at best, assuming one of the top flight players is not in a hurry to come to a franchise without leadership and city in disarray. Trading a top 15 quarterback for a couple of backups and a barely capable quarterback is not a wise decision in today’s NFL. The Lions are better served to hold on to Stafford for at least another year as they build the line to protect him and the defense to allow him to create and protect leads rather than play catchup at the end of games.

Should the Lions add someone in the mid rounds to with whom to develop and push Stafford? Absolutely. Dan Orlovsky cannot win if Stafford gets hurt and is not a real threat to Stafford as a starter, and the team needs to be better prepared in that phase among many others. But Stafford should be around in 2016 and fans should be rooting for capable pass protection and running game to help him elevate to the top 10 quarterback he can be rather than pushing for his ticket out of town.