ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Inside Ford Discipline towards the top of final season, there was a big, white mural with Matthew Stafford pictured on it, his again turned and his left arm raised — index finger pointed within the air.
It was a putting picture then, what with few followers allowed contained in the stadium all season, however one needed to marvel if that picture could be round in 2021. Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia had been gone. It was clear a brand new regime was coming, and after years of claiming he needed to be the quarterback of the Detroit Lions, Stafford was giving much less concrete solutions because the marketing campaign wound down.
Everyone knows why now: Stafford has asked to be traded, one thing he believes can be useful for each events. And whereas a supply aware of the state of affairs mentioned Detroit needs “honest market worth,” it’s arduous to imagine the Lions received’t get that for a soon-to-be-33-year-old quarterback on a largely pleasant contract for the subsequent two seasons.
So barring one thing utterly sudden, Stafford has completed the Detroit portion of his profession. Because the Lions begin to search out suitors for his or her all-time passing chief, it’s time for the franchise to determine what it would have the ability to get again and who is perhaps beneath middle for the Lions once they begin enjoying in 2021.
Not each staff goes to achieve out to inquire about Stafford. Many are set at quarterback or are in too related of a state of affairs to be viable: Buffalo, Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Kansas Metropolis, the Los Angeles Chargers, Inexperienced Bay, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Seattle and Arizona.
That also leaves half the league that both Detroit would possibly attain out to or would possibly come calling to the Lions. This could give Detroit an advantageous state of affairs to create leverage with a mix of much-needed draft capital and maybe even a participant or two in trade for Stafford.
Detroit wants the picks. New basic supervisor Brad Holmes needs to construct by means of the NFL draft and has simply 5 picks in the intervening time for the 2021 draft. With many holes on protection (mainly each place) and now questions on offense at quarterback, working again, vast receiver and to an extent on the offensive line, the extra possibilities to herald younger expertise, the higher.
The Lions ought to obtain at the very least a first-round decide in return for Stafford, except they’ll by some means negotiate Stafford and their very own picks into Houston’s Deshaun Watson and would possibly have the ability to push for a number of first-rounders or a bundle of a number of picks over a number of years.
What that might appear to be would depend upon the place Stafford is headed. As an example, groups with main cap issues (New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas) would possibly attempt to bundle gamers with picks to assist reduce their very own cap woes. And don’t low cost the Raiders. Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden has usually been impressed by Stafford, and neither Derek Carr‘s contract nor Marcus Mariota’s contract is simply too onerous. Or maybe the Lions take one in all them again in return, as each are 30 or youthful and have beginning expertise within the league. It’s a wild-card suggestion, however one must assume Holmes goes to look in all places for the perfect provide.
There are additionally the extra probably choices: Indianapolis, Washington, New England, San Francisco, Carolina, Denver and Dallas. The Cowboys are intriguing due to the uncertainty surrounding Dak Prescott , and sending Stafford again to his hometown at all times appeared like a possible pairing. And till Dallas truly indicators Prescott, it’s price Detroit inquiring or Jerry Jones making the decision.
The longer term
The Lions can go many alternative instructions right here. Detroit may usher in a veteran quarterback as a bridge to the longer term to provide the Lions some flexibility between this yr and subsequent yr to discover a long-term answer.
Or they’ll tackle a youthful quarterback who has struggled elsewhere to see if a change of surroundings will be what ignites that participant, very similar to Ryan Tannehill’s transfer from Miami to Tennessee.
After which there’s the draft, for which the Lions can have at the very least the No. 7 general decide and the potential of at the very least one quarterback falling to them. Let us take a look at all three of those choices.
The bridge: There are numerous choices to contemplate, and with Anthony Lynn working the offense, Tyrod Taylor could be the place to begin.
Taylor was Lynn’s beginning quarterback throughout his one yr as offensive coordinator in Buffalo, and Taylor spent the previous two seasons with the Chargers, the place Lynn was the pinnacle coach. The signal-caller goes to know Lynn’s system higher than every other quarterback within the league and has expertise, throwing for 9,770 yards, 54 touchdowns and 20 interceptions between his time in Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Lynn had Taylor as a bridge — albeit a short-lived one — final season earlier than Justin Herbert took over, so this transfer makes a bunch of sense.
Chase Daniel already is on the roster for the Lions in 2021, and he has $1.5 million assured for subsequent season and a manageable cap hit of $5.Three million. And new Lions head coach Dan Campbell is aware of Daniel from their 2017 season collectively in New Orleans. So it’s a risk Daniel sticks.
Cam Newton, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Robert Griffin III are all potential choices on this state of affairs, as nicely. Jimmy Garoppolo, if the 49ers traded for Stafford, may match both right here or the subsequent class, however Detroit may not wish to tackle Garoppolo’s contract in a commerce.
Any of those quarterbacks probably additionally means drafting the long-term man both in 2021 or 2022.
The reclamation challenge: That is the place issues may get extra fascinating, between potential trades and free brokers.
Very like Taylor, Jameis Winston could possibly be an intriguing possibility. Whereas he would probably appear to be a risk to re-sign in New Orleans, maybe Campbell thought extremely sufficient of him final season whereas working along with the Saints that he would deliver Winston to Detroit to attempt to reclaim his profession.
Winston has the expertise. He accomplished greater than 60% of his passes yearly besides his rookie season and had a 5,109-yard season in 2019, throughout which he threw 33 touchdowns. He additionally threw an eye-popping 30 interceptions, and his self-discipline and decision-making would want to indicate main enchancment.
Jacoby Brissett confirmed potential within the two seasons he was a starter in Indianapolis; and in each seasons, he was thrust into the beginning position unexpectedly. Give him an offseason the place he is aware of he’s the starter and maybe there’s one thing there.
The Lions are aware of Mitchell Trubisky, who usually has appeared to play nicely in opposition to Detroit for components of his profession. For all of his faults, he nonetheless accomplished 67% of his passes final season, threw 16 touchdowns and simply eight interceptions and received the Bears to the playoffs. In some methods, the criticism of Trubisky appears to be primarily based on the place he was drafted as a lot as what he has completed on the sphere.
Sam Darnold may find yourself being accessible with the Jets choosing at No. 2. Like Trubisky and Winston, Darnold’s expertise has proven up in flashes, and a change of surroundings could possibly be a career-saver. Darnold accomplished simply 59.8% of his passes with 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in New York, however he additionally performed with poor Jets groups in all three of his seasons.
The rookies: Get this out of the best way: Barring Jacksonville doing one thing fully sudden, Trevor Lawrence is just not an possibility.
The Lions might need to maneuver up from No. 7 to snag BYU’s Zach Wilson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who’re thought-about the subsequent greatest quarterbacks within the class. Capital from buying and selling Stafford may give Detroit sufficient to try this.
North Dakota State’s Trey Lance — the thriller on this yr’s class as a result of he performed in only one recreation in 2020 — is an intriguing possibility. He by no means misplaced in faculty, going 17-0, and threw just one interception in 307 makes an attempt. He has good dimension at 6-foot-Three and 221 kilos and received’t flip 21 till after the draft. In his one full season enjoying for the Bison, he accomplished 66.9% of his passes for two,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and no interceptions. all whereas speeding for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns.