New Lions regime passes first major test with Matthew Stafford trade

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Lions have finally done the previously unthinkable and traded franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford away. After the firing of previous head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, there was much speculation that Stafford could be on his way out as the Lions were about to undergo a legitimate rebuild.

It seems that Stafford had the rebuilding thought as well, as it was reported by numerous outlets that the quarterback had requested a trade. Apparently, Stafford did not want to go through another rebuild (or even a retooling).

The new Detroit Lions general manager, Brad Holmes, and new head coach, Dan Campbell, knew coming into the job that Stafford, undoubtedly one of the best players to ever put on a Lions uniform, wanted out. Once the news was released, it was quickly obvious that the new leading duo would have quite the first test ahead of them in Detroit.

With reports everywhere stating it would take at least one first-round draft pick, if not more, fans in Detroit everywhere were already stating they would accept nothing less than a first-round pick and at least another day two draft choice. The duo would have no shortage of suitors for the top-ten quarterback, and Stafford was said to be in contact with them throughout the process.

Stafford was ready to move onto a team that can contend right away and was said to prefer the Los Angeles Rams. As it turned out, the Rams were where he ended up getting traded to. Adam Schefter reported the trade on Twitter, announcing the bombshell deal:

The new Lions leaders were able to land a haul for the 33-year old quarterback, gaining a first-round pick in 2022 and 2023 and a third-round pick in 2021. On top of the picks, Detroit also took on former California and Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

Many people were unsure of the Goff inclusion for the Lions, questioning if adding a 26-year old quarterback on an expensive deal was a good move for Detroit, the three picks aside. However, despite the widespread questioning on that front, Goff will not be all that expensive beyond the 2021 season. That is fine for the Lions as they were never expected to really be anywhere close to a contender next season.

Taking a closer look at his contract, here’s the breakdown of guaranteed money owed to Goff over the next four years:

As you can see, the Lions are only tied to Goff for one season and he becomes cuttable/tradable as soon as the next offseason. However, there’s no reason to necessarily believe that Goff may get removed from this team so soon.

Holmes, the new general manager, was one of Goff’s most ardent supporters in L.A., pounding the table for him in the draft. Make no mistake, Holmes likes Goff a lot and will give him every chance to show he can once again become a franchise quarterback.

Goff has a history of success, even if much of it is thanks to coaching and the team placed around him. It’s unlikely that the Lions get a team capable of supporting Goff around him anytime soon, meaning he is likely just a placeholder for a season or two in Detroit until they draft their next franchise guy.

Even if Goff doesn’t become anything special in Detroit, the Lions still got two firsts and a third in draft picks over the next three drafts. Adding a third this year is actually a good add as that could be a good round to dip into the deep wide receiver class in the 2021 NFL draft (Tylan Wallace, Dwayne Eskridge, and Seth Williams are all players that could go in this range).

Also, with two first-rounders in 2022 and 2023, the Lions could have themselves a very nice core going into the 2023 season and could even be real contenders by then as long as they find their next franchise passer.

Related Story. What the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff trade means for the Lions future. light

If Goff were to turn his career trajectory around and become an above-average passer once again, then this trade would morph from a home-run into a grand slam. There’s no question about it, the Lions’ new regime, spearheaded by Holmes and Campbell, aced their first big test in Motor City.