One year ago on Sunday, the Detroit Lions agreed to trade Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams.
As the Detroit Lions entered another new era, quarterback Matthew Stafford made it known to the new regime he didn’t want to be part of a rebuild. Stafford seemingly nixed a deal to one trade suitor, and was ultimately dealt to the Los Angeles Rams for three draft picks (two first-rounders) and quarterback Jared Goff.
NFL transactions aren’t officially official until a new league year starts in March, but it’s not uncommon for trades to be agreed to in principal far sooner. On Jan. 30, 2021, the Lions and Rams agreed to the deal that would send Stafford west. Sunday marks the one-year anniversary.
Sunday is also conference title game day, with a trip to Super Bowl LVI on the line in the AFC and NFC. It’s of course a meaningful day for Stafford, coming off the first two playoff wins of his career and facing the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Super Bowl LVI also happens to be at the Rams’ home, SoFi Stadium, on Feb.13.
The Matthew Stafford Trade: Have the Lions gained anything?
The immediate return for the Lions in the Stafford trade was Goff and the 2021 third-round pick that yielded cornernack Ifeatu Melifonwu.
Goff struggled mightily to start his first season as a Lion, but from Week 12 on he played very well with a 107.1 passer rating over his final five starts. Next season could be his last in Detroit, or set the table for him to be around a little while longer.
Melifonwu missed a big chunk of his rookie season with a quad injury, with another missed game due to being on the COVID-19 list. He started the final three games of the season (among four total starts) playing nearly every snap over that season-ending span. The future looks bright, and next season will be a key point in Melifonwu’s development.
The 2022 first-round pick the Lions got from the Rams in the Stafford deal will be between No. 29 and No. 32 overall now. The second first-rounder they got in the deal will come in 2023, with where it is dependent on how far Stafford and the Rams go next season. Time will tell if the Lions get much from those extra early picks, but if the Rams meet their expectations the second will be late in the first round as well.