The Detroit Lions have mutually agreed to part ways with long-time quarterback Matthew Stafford this offseason and are currently listening to trade offers from plenty of interested teams.
Although Stafford has no playoff wins on his resume, he is one hell of a football player and would be an immediate upgrade to most quarterback situations in the NFL. Around the league, Stafford is viewed as one of the best leaders and competitors in all of football. He’s played through injury after injury, is highly respected by his teammates, and has plenty of football left at only 32 years old.
Let’s take a look at the top landing spots for the gunslinger:
San Francisco 49ers
Despite helping guide the 49ers to the Superbowl last year, Stafford would certainly be an upgrade to Jimmy Garoppolo and is the best candidate outside of Deshaun Watson to lead the Niners back to contention in the NFC. Kyle Shanahan is an offensive mastermind and Matt Stafford without a doubt has the ability to get tricky. The Niners should pounce on Stafford while he’s still on the market.
The Lions are likely to look for a deal centered around the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft in exchange for one of the most beloved sports figures in Lions history. If the deal gets done, I expect the Niners to cut Garoppolo which would lead him back to New England with Coach Bill and the Patriots.
With Philip Rivers retiring, the Colts need a new quarterback. With Frank Reich at the helm, a talented defense and Jonathan Taylor in the backfield, the Colts are one quarterback away from the Super Bowl. Can Stafford be that guy? I certainly think so.
The Colts would likely send their first-round pick back to Detroit, #21 overall. The Niners have a higher pick than Indy which gives them a slight edge but it will ultimately come down to which team wants him more.
Washington Football Team
Given the toxicity of the NFC East, Washington was the surprise playoff team of the NFL season. While the division may have been bad this season, Washington’s rise is not by accident. New head coach Ron Rivera has changed the culture of the team and the defense has proven to be amongst the best in the NFL. Given that Alex Smith doesn’t have much football left in him, Stafford is an elite option for a team on the rise like Washington.
In terms of what Washington would have to give up to land Stafford, they would likely have to part with their first-rounder, #19 overall, as well as any team who wants a serious chance at landing the proven signal-caller.
Sleepers: Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons
I personally expect both these teams to upgrade their quarterback position through this year’s draft. That being said, when a QB of Stafford’s caliber is available, you at least pick up the phone and see what’s what.
As much as I love Teddy Bridgewater, he’s not the QB he was before his injury and Stafford can take a team like Carolina to the next level. Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and pending free-agent Curtis Samuel are an impressive receiving core that can do some damage with Stafford under center.
If the Falcons opt to add Stafford via trade, they can look to get him protection or look to add to their defense with the #4 overall pick instead of having to select a QB. Stafford with Julio and Calvin Ridley? Sign me up.