Detroit Lions should trade Matthew Stafford, begin the rebuild

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions need to make a bold move in order to change their fortunes. But this franchise is unwilling to do whatever it takes to win a Super Bowl.

The Detroit Lions are in a prime position with the upcoming NFL Draft. With the third overall pick, they will probably miss out on Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who is the best fit for a team that lacks a pass rush and is in desperate need of playmakers on defense.

But Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the perfect selection for this team. Tua will likely have a bigger impact in the NFL than the presumed number one pick – LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. But the Lions are unlikely to even consider Tua for the draft, despite his overwhelming talent.

And the disappointing thing is the reason why. The Lions want to pass on Tua because general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia fear that they will lose their jobs. Unless, of course, they make the playoffs this season, which seems unlikely without some major acquisitions this offseason.

Of course, the Detroit Lions’ only chance of winning is to have quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy for the entire upcoming season. Without Matthew, this team would be lucky to win one game next season. With Stafford, the range of wins will be anywhere from six to upwards of ten.

Stafford has a major impact on this team because he is by far their best player. But the rest of the roster is full of holes and question marks.

Last week on ESPN’s Get Up, NFL analyst Bart Scott said the Lions should consider trading Stafford to the New England Patriots for a first-round pick. But this kind of bold move will mean this team accepting what they are (01-07-20, “Hour 2”):

"“[The trade] allows Matt Patricia to buy some time. Matthew Stafford is an elite quarterback… But what have you won with him? He’s the only asset that you have. This team is not going to win or contend in that division next year or the year after. You get Tua. Tua can sit for a year, and now Patricia has his quarterback of the future… and rebuild this team in Detroit.”"

By trading Stafford away, the Detroit Lions will be looking at a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They will be wretched without Stafford, at least until Tua is ready to take the reins – which could take an entire year. But would it be so bad?

From a watching perspective, the final eight weeks of the 2019 season were unbearable without Matthew Stafford. This team had no chance of winning any of those games. Even in the couple games that were not out of hand score-wise, there was no one at the helm to pull out a victory.

This franchise has never been willing to do everything it takes to win a Super Bowl. Trading Stafford coupled with the drafting of Tua would show the team is truly invested in winning.

But the Detroit Lions ownership likes being in the middle for some reason – make the playoffs once in a while and keep the fans and media from complaining too loudly. If this team loses twelve plus games next season, the fans and the media would go apoplectic.

Everyone would have to be fired, people would call for ownership to sell, maybe fans would organize a useless march or root for the other team at a home game. All things that probably give ownership a chuckle, as they continue to rake in the television profits from this country’s most popular sport.

The Lions ownership does not want to start over and build something from scratch because there is too much risk in that. It could take more than one attempt, if a player fails to come through or if an injury rears its ugly head.

But what ownership fails to realize is that it has gone bad for a stretch. And what is tiresome is that this organization isn’t willing to bet on new talents like Tua.

Stafford is a good quarterback. But he doesn’t have enough to elevate this sorry franchise from its dreadful depths. He can raise them to mediocrity. And that in itself is impressive. But it isn’t enough.

Every week the draft draws closer. And the one thing that is for sure is that the Lions will not spend any of their time pursuing Tua. Passing on big talents is what this team does best.

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The offseason will be filled with promises and prospects only to fall flat when the season begins. It happens every year. And unless the Detroit Lions are willing to change, this season will be more of the same.