The Matthew Stafford era in Detroit is reportedly coming to an end. The Detroit Lions starting quarterback spent 12 seasons slinging footballs in the Motor City and set numerous NFL records, such as becoming the fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards.
The Lions, under new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell, are pressing restart on the franchise and Stafford is expected to be traded, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. How much the team receives in a deal depends how desperate one team is for cannon-armed, Pro Bowl quarterback.
Whichever team ends up calling the 2009 NFL Draft first-overall pick its starting signal caller will likely improve its chances at making the playoffs. Yes, I know that Stafford has never won a postseason game. Stafford will be 33 entering the 2021 season and still has plenty left in the tank. He's coming off a 5-11 season but threw for 4,000 yards for the eighth time in his career.
Considering plenty of big-name quarterbacks like Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton and Carson Wentz could be on the move this offseason, the AFC and NFC could look like different leagues in 2021.
Who will end up with Matthew Stafford? Six teams in particular could use his services.
6 Matthew Stafford Trade Destinations
San Francisco 49ers
— chan0.eth (@chanodesigns) January 24, 2021
Stafford is owed $43 million over the next two seasons (including $23 million next year), which is honestly not much for a quarterback like Stafford.
The 49ers inked Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million in 2018 but are coming off a 6-10 season that saw Jimmy G struggle to stay healthy. Would head coach Kyle Shanahan move on from Garoppolo just a year after he reached the Super Bowl? Stafford is a proven passer and only a few years older than Garoppolo.
San Francisco has the 12th-overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft and would likely have to surrender that for Stafford. It could be worth it.
The Colts have emerged as favorites to land Matthew Stafford
Indianapolis Colts +300
San Francisco 49ers +350
Denver Broncos +450
New England Patriots +500
Washington Football Team +600
Carolina Panthers +800
Las Vegas Raiders +1000
Los Angeles Rams +1100
Houston Texans +1200 pic.twitter.com/nhQNU6EFe5
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) January 25, 2021
Philip Rivers is calling it a career, which leaves the Colts with a hole under center. Jacoby Brissett is probably not the answer. Enter Matthew Stafford, who can keep this playoff team a contender.
Colts owner Jim Irsay should probably have the Lions on speed dial at this point. The Colts have one of the better offensive lines in the league and weapons like T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr. They also have a boatload of cap space available and own the No. 21 pick in this year's draft. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah predicted the team would trade this pick for Stafford, and it honestly makes too much sense.
Washington Football Team
There's so much uncertainty with the Washington Football Team entering the 2021 season. Who will play quarterback? Is Alex Smith the best option? What will the team nickname be? Can they overcome the public relations nightmare from 2020?
Trading for Matthew Stafford immediately makes head coach Ron Rivera's job easier. It might mean surrendering a first-round pick, but I think Washington fans would be happy to have a competent quarterback for the first time since (maybe) Kirk Cousins.
The Broncos know they need a quarterback. Drew Lock just threw a league-leading 15 interceptions (to 16 touchdowns) last season. It's time to go get someone who can actually get the ball to his receivers.
Stafford and the Lions agreeing to part ways should be music to Denver ears. John Elway has already said he wouldn't stop general manager George Paton trading multiple top draft picks in a blockbuster trade, and with nine picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Broncos could certainly do so.
New England Patriots
Future patriot Matthew Stafford pic.twitter.com/IquN2ZqzIf
— Grant ? (@grantwest2017) January 25, 2021
What a difference a season can make. The Patriots watched Tom Brady walk away only for him to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past Drew Brees' New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl LV berth against Patrick Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, Cam Newton mustered just seven wins in his replacement.
Bill Belichick needs a star quarterback. Stafford could be that guy. Belichick recently hired former Lions head coach Matt Patricia back on his staff, too. Could they be gearing up to make a move for the veteran passer?
They may not like trading first-rounders, but the Patriots need to make a move if they want to stay relevant and get back to the AFC Championship Game.
Chicago Bears quarterback Matthew Stafford. Yeah, that just doesn't sound right.
Could the Lions actually trade their 12-year veteran to the NFC North rival just a stone's throw away from Michigan? They probably shouldn't. But if the return is a good one, I don't know that this should stop them.
Mitchell Trubisky isn't the future of the organization and the Bears still have a pretty good defense led by Khalil Mack. They should trade for Stafford and look to free agents to address their other holes.
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