Detroit Lions: Life After Stafford


Rey Del Rio

Mathew Stafford traded after 11 years with the Lions

Nick McDonald, Staff Writer

The recent news of the Lions and Matthew Stafford mutually agreeing to part ways, leaves fans with many questions. Where will he go? What will the Lions get in return? Will they draft the QB of the future? And, most importantly, what’s next? No one will know the answer to these questions until they are revealed as the future unfolds. 

Let’s first look at some potential teams he could go to and what the return may be. There’s no question that Stafford is talented, arguably a top ten QB when healthy, but being on the wrong side of 30 and some recent injury history, that may not look too appealing for many teams. But there are still many teams that he can get over that hump and competing for a Super Bowl. The first team that comes to mind is the Colts. With Philip Rivers retiring, the Colts have a big question mark at QB; the Colts have a top-tier defense and a good offense, but a hole at QB that Stafford could fill. A possible return would most likely be a combination of picks. The Colts currently have the 21st pick, pairing that with a future first or multitude of day two or three picks may look appealing for the Lions to jump-start their rebuild. The 49ers have also been a part of many rumors in the Stafford war. Jimmy Garoppolo has been a solid QB for the 49ers when on the field, but the problem is he hasn’t been on the field most of the time. Garappolo has played in six games or fewer in three of the last four years. Stafford is an upgrade either way; after falling short in the 2020 Super Bowl, Stafford could be the push needed to get them back there. As for what the Lions would get back, again most likely a combination of picks. Possibly their 12th pick and future picks or even Jimmy G as the Lions will have a gaping hole at QB once Stafford is gone. A less probable landing spot, but still very possible is the Patriots. Cam Newton showed that he is not capable of being the star QB he once was, so that leaves Bill Belichick and the Patriots on the hunt for a new one. Again, the Lions would likely receive New England’s 15th pick and future first-rounders. Dark horse landing spots for Stafford may be the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, or Las Vegas Raiders. The Lions are just looking for who will have the best offer to get them started on their rebuild.

The next big question mark is the draft. Will Detroit look for their future QB or look to fill other holes at WR or LB? And this all depends on what happens in front of them. This is an absolutely stacked QB class with the top prospects of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and even Mac Jones. The odds are slim, but if Wilson or Fields fall to the Lions at 7, it should be a no brainer to take them. Personally, I am higher on Wilson than Fields, but either would be someone to rebuild around. Now for Lance; he’s more of a raw prospect having played in the FCS at North Dakota State, but the high ceiling could be something Detroit is interested in. At 7, Jones would be a huge reach, but if he falls to their 2nd-round pick that would be a great value. The possibility is also there for them to trade up to take a top QB. If Detroit chooses to not go for a QB, the next option should be WR, with the likely departure of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. The top 3 in the class are Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. Chase should be the first choice, but he will probably not be available at 7, so Smith or Waddle would be the most likely selection. Less likely selections would be LB Micah Parsons or CB Patrick Surtain II. Detroit has a lot of different routes they can go, but looking for a QB should be the first.

The most uncertain question: what’s next? What does the future of the Lions look like? After being stuck in a state of mediocrity, it appears that Detroit is ready to go full rebuild mode. The Lions are going to need to strike gold in the next few drafts and make smart moves and get lucky in some spots; trading Stafford is definitely a good first move, although it will be sad to see him go. New coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes will have many tough decisions this offseason and it’s the right decision to start a rebuild, but Lions fans, strap in, because it is going to be a long ride.