Did the Lions act in bad faith with the Panthers on Matthew Stafford deal?
It’s not necessarily fresh news, but the Carolina Panthers reportedly thought they had a deal done for Matthew Stafford.
When the Detroit Lions made Matthew Stafford available a little over a year ago, several teams could have made a case to trade for him. He of course ultimately went to the Los Angeles Rams, and the move paid off in his first season there with a win in Super Bowl LVI.
The Carolina Panthers made an offer, which included the No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 draft and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It’s easy to lament the Lions not making that deal, with the top-10 pick and a quarterback with less contract commitment that would’ve come. But Stafford may have nixed a deal to Carolina, and Lions general manager Brad Holmes let him have a say in his destination. Holmes has more recently confirmed the Panthers were a significant suitor.
Did the Lions do the Panthers wrong in Matthew Stafford trade negotiations?
It’s easy to believe the Panthers were very close to landing Stafford. Jonathan Alexander of the Charlotte Observer has confirmed as much in a recent article.
The Panthers were clearly in the market for an upgrade at quarterback, with owner David Tepper antsy to find a franchise signal caller. Talks with the Lions about Stafford apparently started at the 2021 Senior Bowl. According to Alexander, Panthers’ brass left Mobile confident about their chances of landing Stafford. But things quickly changed.
The Rams were also in discussions with the Lions about Stafford. An offer of three draft picks, including two first-rounders, and quarterback Jared Goff got a deal done. Alexander had a couple money lines from Carolina’s end, once Holmes contacted them to tell them a deal with the Rams was indeed close.
"The coaching staff and front office members for the Panthers were confused and shocked, multiple sources familiar with the deal said.We won. We had it,” one Panthers source said. “Then it went away.”"
Ultimately Stafford preferred the Rams, who apart from having him in the fold as a boost were easy to see as closer to winning a Super Bowl than the Panthers.
The Lions possibly could have handled things better. But the reality of the business is a deal is never done until it’s all the way done. The Panthers were left at the doorstep of getting Stafford, while the Rams moved by them and got it done.