With what the going rate for veteran quarterbacks has become, the timing of the Matthew Stafford trade was perfect for the Detroit Lions.
Faced with another reset/rebuild in Detroit, Matthew Stafford asked to be traded and got his wish with last offseason’s deal sending him to the Los Angeles Rams. The Lions got Jared Goff, two first-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a 2021 third-round pick in the deal. The second first-rounder came as a sweetener for Detroit to take on Goff’s contract.
It’s clear the Carolina Panthers, with a top-10 pick in the 2021 draft, made an offer to the Lions for Stafford. But Stafford was allowed to choose his destination, and who can blame him for choosing the Rams?
This offseason’s quarterback carousel took another spin on Monday, with the Atlanta Falcons sending Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2022 third-round pick. Ryan’s bloated cap number certainly impacted Atlanta’s return, but a Day 2 pick still feels light for a former league MVP with a solid resume.
The Colts of course created their quarterback opening by moving on from Carson Wentz just one year in. With a second-round pick swap, Washington essentially traded two third-round picks (one of which, in 2023, can become a second-rounder if Wentz plays 70 percent of the snaps in 2022).
The San Francisco 49ers are clearly open to trading Jimmy Garoppolo. But a reported offer of two second-round picks on the table apparently is not yet enough to get general manager John Lynch to do it, as he apparently seeks more. At this point, with suitors falling by the wayside, two second-round picks is a top-end offer for Garoppolo. He is also recovering from shoulder surgery, and won’t be able to throw for months.
Timing of Matthew Stafford trade was absolutely perfect for the Detroit Lions
It’s amazing to realize that Matt Patricia lasted less than three seasons (43 games) as the Lions’ head coach, since it felt like much longer. But firing him and general manager Bob Quinn before the 2020 season was over started a course for a rebuild, which prompted Stafford to ask for a trade.
The Falcons also hit the reset button with a new head coach and general manager in 2021. But, surely with his contract and cap hits as an impediment to moving on, they stuck with Ryan for what became one more year. They didn’t get Deshaun Watson, then moved Ryan for a third-round pick. They did a partial reset with Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smithlast year, then completed it a year later by clunkily trading Ryan.
If you were to have speculated on potential trade suitors for Stafford or Ryan heading into the 2021 offseason, there would’ve been some overlap (Colts, 49ers, maybe some others I can’t think of). The Lions had their hand forced by Stafford’s trade request, but they pulled the trigger and got two first-round picks for him under an amicable circumstance. The Falcons waited, passed on drafting a quarterback in the 2021 draft, pursued a big-name someone else with question marks this offseason, then traded Ryan for less than his perceived value.
Lions’ history is filled with “what-ifs?” about the draft, free agency or even trades. But in the case of the Stafford trade, the timing just happened to work out perfectly.