The San Francisco 49ers seem in line to trade Trey Lance this offseason, but should the Detroit Lions make an offer?
The San Francisco 49ers are in the NFC Championship Game for the third time in the last four years. They are also on their third quarterback of the season, as rookie seventh-round pick Brock Purdy has taken over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, who took over for an injured Trey Lance.
Lance entered the NFL as a great unknown, with one full season as a college starter at North Dakota State in the FCS. The 49ers traded up to take him third overall in the 2021 draft, in a bet on his potential.
Two seasons into his pro career Lance remains a great unknown, with four NFL starts, 102 pass attempts and 262 snaps on his resume. A right ankle injury in Week 2 ended his 2022 season, and robbed him of experience and any progress he could have made.
Purdy seems to have established himself as the 49ers’ starting quarterback looking toward next season, and perhaps beyond. Garoppolo will be a free agent, and he’s likely to be in-demand for a starting job somewhere else.
A roster that is otherwise well-equipped to keep winning probably can’t wait for Lance to be healthy and reach his potential in 2023.
NFL Rumors: Should the Detroit Lions consider trading for Trey Lance?
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are sure to deflect and avoid any immediate questions about whether Lance could be traded this offseason. But it has to be on the radar, and Lance still has the perception of potential that could fetch a decent return from a team willing to take a flier on him. He’ll turn 23 on May 9.
Michael Silver of The San Francisco Chronicle recently offered some insight into what the 49ers could get for Lance in a trade.
"Even if the Niners are receptive to potential trade offers for Lance after the season, they won’t come close to recouping that haul. Based on my conversations with several teams’ general managers (and other high- ranking front-office executives), Lance would be unlikely to net much more than a third- round selection, though it’s possible there’s a team out there motivated to give more."
During his end of season press conference, Lions general manager Brad Holmes made it clear some priority will be placed on the No. 2 quarterback spot. Nate Sudfeld will most likely not be back, and signing someone like Tim Boyle won’t be happening. So it’ll be someone who can fill in capably for Jared Goff if needed, so as not to derail a 2023 season that looks promising, and/or someone with potential and upside.
Lance fits firmly into the latter category, and with Goff locked into the starting job next season he’s a theoretical option to take over after that. He has two guaranteed years left on his rookie contract, with a fifth-year option for 2025 to decide on.
Detroit’s third-round pick in April sits at 81st overall. Offering that for Lance is reasonable, with absolutely no consideration for the fact he was a top-five overall pick as an idea to drive up Silver’s prescribed price. Throwing in a conditional late-rounder would be fine and possible, but maybe not necessary.
The odds the Lions trade for Lance don’t seem great at this point, if the 49ers even end up entertaining moving him. But there’s a lot of upside in the idea, and on the path of “no stone unturned” it’s one general manager Brad Holmes should have on his radar.