The Matthew Stafford era in Detroit is apparently coming to a close, as the two sides have mutually agreed to part ways after Stafford reportedly asked to be traded. As it stands, the Lions will start the 2021 season with a new General Manager, Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and quarterback.
With Detroit looking to rebuild, potentially around the 7th overall pick in the NFL Draft, Stafford has decided to move on from Honolulu Blue after 12 seasons. Stafford is one of the gutsiest, toughest quarterbacks in the league, continuously willing himself onto the field through numerous injuries — and terrible teams. The QB has been one of the most underrated gun slingers in the league for more than a decade, in large part due to the inept organization that he has served. Much like his contemporary Tony Romo, he has never reached the mountaintop and won’t be appreciated until he’s gone … unless something changes. A change of scenery could potentially lead Stafford to the playoff success that he deserves.
Here are the top-5 teams that I would like to see Stafford get a crack at leading to a deep playoff run.
1. Indianapolis Colts
When Philip Rivers announced his retirement earlier this week, I wrote a piece highlighting some options for the Colts. Matthew Stafford was one of them. A stud offensive line, a solid running game, good receiving options, and a solid defense would give Stafford a great situation to succeed with. Go trade for Stafford and add another WR or two this offseason/in the draft, and the Colts could easily be the top team in the AFC South. This pairing would be straight sex.
2. San Francisco 49ers
I’m a Seahawks fan. We already have enough to contend with in battling Kyler Murray and the Rams defense. Trust me when I say that envisioning Stafford in the NFC West brings me a lot of pain, but it would make sense for both sides. The Jimmy Garopollo experiment has not worked. If they have an opportunity to add a proven vet with an arm that can stretch the defense, to go along with their zone running scheme and George Kittle as essentially a positionless tight end…. Whew. That’d be terrifying for other teams.
3. Washington Football Team
Washington proved this year that they have one of the budding elite defenses in the league. Pair that with a young superstar wide receiver in Terry McLaurin, a 2020 rookie stud running back in Antonio Gibson, and a good amount of draft capital, and a veteran quarterback could be just the ticket to push this over the top and continue the revitalizing surge of the Washing Football Team.
4. New Orleans Saints
It would be an embarrassment of riches to see the Saints go from Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees straight to Matthew Stafford, but if they believe they are still in a contending window, this could be a move worth making. Adding Stafford would extend the window by a couple of years, at least. The Saints would then be afforded the luxury of prioritizing the defensive side of the ball, as well as adding a secondary wide receiver to the mix for Stafford to pair up with. Stafford, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara would be a lethal trio. Add second-year tight end Adam Trautman to the mix, and that offense would have some serious talent.
5. New England Patriots
I hate this. I really do. I hate the thought of Bill Belichick getting a veteran, talented, tough quarterback like this that would give them the opportunity to rebound in New England. I’m not saying I like this for Stafford – New England probably has the worst offensive skill players in the NFL at this point – but the Patriots could feasibly look to build around the 32-year-old field general, believing that Stafford could give them three to four years of solid production while they address the rest of their roster. Do I think they will? No. Do I want this for Stafford? Also no.
Matthew Stafford is a franchise icon that endeared himself to the city of Detroit over the past dozen years. Personally, I hope the new Detroit front office, which apparently knew that Stafford wanted out before they were hired, does good by him and gets him to a solid destination. Stafford deserves an opportunity at a playoff run, and there are multiple franchises that would give him that moment.