Matthew Stafford trade gives Lions chips to go all-in on next QB

North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

After 12 seasons of broken bones, defenses, and running games. All while on his way to breaking nearly every Detroit Lions franchise passing record in spite of it all. It’s hard to argue anyone has done more for Lions football than Matthew Stafford.

And when it’s all said and done, it’s possible the most he’ll have ever done for the Detroit Lions is demand a trade and bring in the haul of draft capital he did.

Negotiating with the team he left just weeks before, new Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes and staff netted two first-round picks (2022, 2023), a third-round pick (2021), from the Rams for Stafford. With one caveat, he had to take their below-average quarterback with a bad contract off their hands too.

More on Jared Goff at a later date as he wasn’t an important piece for the Lions in this deal, it was just important for Los Angeles to get rid of him. I don’t care what the Lions try to spin in the media regarding the thought process in taking on Goff. What do you expect them to say?

The big return on Stafford gives Detroit the ultimate luxury of being a little picky with selecting their next franchise quarterback, and there’s nothing better in the NFL than having your choice of quarterbacks when you need one.

With five first-round picks in the next three drafts, Detroit should have enough draft capital to allow them to trade up and target just about any quarterback they want if they don’t like the odds of him falling to them. Especially if they naturally produce a high draft pick themselves as expected. Which brings me to my next point.

Trading away someone as vital to the teams’ success as Stafford also signifies a full-rebuild. So not only does Detroit have flexibility on who because of their bargaining chips in the draft, but also when because of their willingness to be patient with the process.

New head coach Dan Campbell had this to say to Kyle Meinke of after the blockbuster trade;

"“My view of this, and (Holmes’) too, honestly, is where are we two years from now? Not this year. What do we look like in two years? That’s the way I really view this. So any piece that we (add), any free agent that’s added, any draft pick that’s added, like, those players have to be our core foundation two years from now.”"

Campbell would go on to explain how the new regime in Detroit wishes to avoid being an up and down team that makes knee-jerk reactions in an attempt to win as fast as they can. The NFL is where teams go from zero to hero seemingly every season, yes … this isn’t one of those situations though. And it’s refreshing to finally hear a staff realize who they are and the best way to get to who they want to be.

Detroit will have a new coaching staff, playbooks, players, positive energy, all that good stuff. But this league is about the players and the Lions will not have them by the start of the 2021 regular season in just over seven months.

The Lions are 5-22 without Stafford since they drafted him in 2009, four of those wins came when their defense help opponents under 20 points. And if you dare try and pre-date Matthew, the Stafford-less Lions are 6-44 in the last 50 games.

Where were we? People, focus. The point is … they might be in an even better position next season to pull the trigger on their next gunslinger.

Almost every year there’s another ‘generational talent’ at quarterback available and a couple more early first-round graded quarterbacks emerging to fill out the top-10 rankings. This 2021 class is no different and seems very strong at the top.

light. Trending. Winners and losers from the Jared Goff trade

But with how the Lions have positioned themselves with the Stafford trade … if the cards don’t play out in their favor this year, they can hold their chips until the next hand. A great position to be in for a franchise that seems to always have the chips stacked against them.