Lions need to cash in on Matthew Stafford, before it’s too late

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Lions should trade Matthew Stafford while there’s still value

The Detroit Lions finally put the nail in the coffin on former general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia’s Patriot experiment in Detroit. The next GM will be the third of his kind in quarterback Matthew Stafford’s career … and should be the GM to finally break up this dysfunctional relationship between the face and the franchise.

Coaches and general managers come and go every few years in Detroit but there’s been one constant since the late 2000s … Stafford. In 12 seasons he’s played under two general managers, three head coaches, four offensive coordinators, six quarterback coaches, and three acting owners. Tally one more to all those totals if he’s back in 2021.

Throughout all that chaos though he’s become the franchise leader in games played as a quarterback (160), wins (73), losses (86), yards (43,901), touchdowns (274), QB rating (89.6) (16/game min), and with his interception on Thanksgiving he’s now tied with Bobby Layne with (142).

For over a decade he’s been the heart and soul of Detroit Lions football, and during that time the team never won a division title or playoff game … his fault or not.

This team is now at the biggest crossroads since the Matt Millen firing, Stafford isn’t getting any younger, better, or healthier … and the team is about to get even worse for what may be the last good football Matthew has in him.

It’s time to move on

If this team is heading towards a rebuild, which it most definitely should be, they are at least two years away from competing. Barring a football miracle.

Do you honestly believe it’s the smart move to lose value on Stafford just to trot him out on a bad team for the next two years? For what?

So the Lions can win five or six games instead of three or four? So they can hoover in mediocrity? Win just enough to climb out of high enough draft position and decrease the odds significantly that Stafford’s replacement will be worth a damn?

The compensation you could get from Stafford could be the difference in whether this rebuild even works. There’s nothing more valuable in this league than high draft capital, and this game is a business. Don’t forfeit draft capital.

Detroit got a third-round pick for cornerback Darius Slay and the Eagles still had to pay him immediately … I’m not convinced you can’t get a first for Stafford.

The only downside to trading him, beyond not having as good a quarterback during a rebuild, would be his dead cap hit will be around $20 million next season. But Detroit shouldn’t care too much about losing out in free agency in year one of a complete rebuild.

Stafford will be 33 in a couple of months with two years left on his contract. The Lions will have to extend him while he’s 34 or 35 before they’re even ready to win again.

Stafford hasn’t played a healthy season in his 30s yet with two broken backs and now another partially torn ligament in his throwing hand.

But even though the injuries have been more ‘oft’ than not the past three seasons. You still should be able to get some real trade value for him before the memory of that 136 consecutive start streak is too far away in the rear-view mirror.

There’s going to be a team with a win-now roster and not ideal and/or aging quarterbacks, i.e. Saints, 49ers, Colts, Buccaneers, etc, that should be willing to part with high draft capital if they think an upgrade at quarterback is enough to get them to the Super Bowl.

Sooner the better

Though it does take two to tango and the Lions can’t artificially manufacture a perfect market for Stafford this offseason. They should be actively shopping him.

Because the real value comes in trading him with two years on his deal, that’s twice the Stafford at his current rate. It would also give his new team a full year in-house before even thinking about extension talks.

All this means this offseason would be the prime time to cash in on the former No. 1 overall pick, preferably when free agency opens in March. You can’t bank on Stafford staying healthy to play here long enough to make it out the other side of this rebuild.

You also can’t bank on someone who has given so much to this franchise with very little support would even re-sign here, again. And the value is dwindling.


This franchise has already cost itself too much by not taking a quarterback when they had the third-overall pick this season. So even if the Lions don’t get the offer for Stafford they’re wanting this free agency, they should still look to draft a quarterback and let him sit a year and continue shopping Stafford until the trade deadline. Rinse and repeat next season if you have to.

For a franchise that’s had its best players walk away due to their own ineptitude and be left with nothing to show for it, to let it happen again would be malfeasance.

Related Story. Two reasons the Detroit Lions should keep Matthew Stafford. light

It sucks to end the era of the most talented quarterback in team history. But I promise you it will suck even worse to see either the demise of Stafford here in Detroit or the departure of Stafford from Detroit. And, of course, be left with nothing to show for it.