Two reasons the Detroit Lions should keep Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Why the Detroit Lions’ new regime should hold on to Matthew Stafford

With Saturday’s firings of head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the Detroit Lions forge ahead into an unknown, but hopefully brighter future. And it’s currently unclear whether that future includes Matthew Stafford.

Lions’ owner Shelia Ford Hamp was noncommittal when asked about Detroit’s longtime quarterback and if the soon-to-be 33-year old passer is part of their rebuilding plans.

It appears Hamp is going to leave that decision to Detroit’s next head coach, whoever that might be. But there are two really good reasons why the Lions should keep Stafford in the Motor City … at least for another season or two.

#1. Lack of options in free agency

If the Lions do ultimately decide to move on from Stafford, who takes his place? Unless Detroit is willing to mortgage part of their future and trade away draft picks to obtain another team’s starter, they likely look to either free agency or the draft to fill his void.

If they are intent on doing the former, the team will be hard-pressed to find a passer better than Stafford on the open market. Of the quarterbacks scheduled to hit free agency in March, the most intriguing is Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys.

But it seems very unlikely that the Cowboys will allow Prescott to get away. Especially considering the team could simply decide to use the franchise tag to retain him for the second season in a row.

Outside of Prescott, the pickings get slim. Names like Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Mitchell Trubisky. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston, Jacoby Brissett, Tyrod Taylor, and Joe Flacco are all scheduled to hit the open market in 2021. And all seem inferior when compared to Stafford.

#2. Rookie quarterbacks benefit from sitting a season or two

It’s true that rookie quarterbacks can find success in the NFL in their first season. The early performances from the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert are just the latest examples. In fact, the aforementioned Prescott arguably posted the greatest rookie season by a quarterback in NFL history and he was a fourth-round selection out of Mississippi State in 2016.

Yet, take a look across the league at passers with Super Bowl success. Out of names like the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Tampa Buccaneers’ Tom Brady, and the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, only one started a game in their rookie season. And that was Mahomes, who played a Week 17 contest at the end of his first year. In the case of Rodgers, he didn’t start in the regular season until his fourth year in the NFL.

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So, even if the Detroit Lions decided to use a top draft selection on a quarterback, that doesn’t mean the inexperienced passer should automatically be the starter in Motown. In fact, there’s a very good case to be made that any rookie would benefit tremendously from sitting on the bench and getting mentored by Matthew Stafford for a season or more.