After the most eventful offseason for the Detroit Lions in over a decade, their opening day roster in September of 2021 will look drastically different than the ones that took the field over the last few years. With some of their most important players over that period now wearing different colors, it’s time to examine what roles they may play with their new teams.
Each of these former Lions played at least four seasons for the team, though some of them made a much bigger impact than others. None of them, however, left a bigger hole than the first player on our list …
New team: Los Angeles Rams
2020 stats with Lions: 16 games played, 339/528 passing, 4084 yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Well, who else would it be to start? Stafford’s trade to the Los Angeles Rams in March was a major part of the busiest Lions offseason in recent memory and it ushered in a full-scale restructuring for the team.
Stafford, who owns practically every significant passing record for the Lions, brings his powerful right arm to Hollywood. He will be tasked with re-igniting a Rams offense that seemed to have plateaued under quarterback Jared Goff, the player for whom Stafford was traded. The hope is that head coach Sean McVay can use Stafford’s downfield prowess to help the Rams rise above the rest of the rugged NFC West.
Aside from McVay’s highly regarded offensive acumen, Stafford will have an interesting array of weapons at his disposal in L.A. Receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and DeSean Jackson are reliable veterans, with Woods and Jackson capable of occasional explosive performances on the outside and Kupp doing the majority of his damage in the slot. They figure to be important parts of Stafford’s acclimation to life with the Rams.
He will also have a pair of young wideouts vying for touches in second-year man Van Jefferson and shifty rookie Tutu Atwell in the mix. Atwell is an interesting player who could see looks out of the backfield as well. There isn’t a dominant alpha-type in the unit like Stafford has had in the past with the Lions, but this is a deep group that should give him plenty of options.
In the backfield, Stafford will be supported by a ground attack that has finished in the top ten in total rushing yards in three of the past four seasons. Young tailbacks Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson should be able to help provide balance for the Rams’ offense, something that Stafford notoriously never got enough of in Detroit.
The Rams’ offensive line could be the key to Stafford’s fate in L.A. It’s a solid mix of grizzled veterans and promising youngsters, though there isn’t a lot of depth. If they can’t keep Stafford upright or open consistent running lanes, it won’t matter how much of an upgrade he is under center.
It’s obvious that the Rams’ brass believes that Stafford is the missing piece to winning a championship, something he never came close to achieving in Detroit. Despite a daunting schedule, that could be a realistic goal should he prove worthy of the steep price that Rams paid to acquire him. Keep an eye on their home matchup with the Lions in Week 7, sure to be an event with mixed emotions for the Detroit faithful.