The deal is complete, and Matthew Stafford’s time with the Detroit Lions.
As most Detroiters know by now, the Detroit Lions traded Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round draft picks (2022 and 2023), a third-rounder (2021), and Jared Goff.
The Saturday night blockbuster trade sent shockwaves throughout the entire NFL.
And there are several reasons that it did.
The first is just pure shock.
While the writing was on the wall for an imminent Stafford trade, its completion is still a “surprise” to many. The Lions have made many changes in the past 12 years. Until Saturday night, Stafford wasn’t one of them. Heck, his presence was the Lions’ only sign of consistency.
As the Lions’ quarterback, Stafford threw for 45,109 yards and 282 touchdowns. Additionally, he’s a one-time Pro Bowler and NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2011). And speaking comebacks, no one can forget Stafford’s production in the fourth quarter. Since 2009, he’s engineered 31 fourth-quarter comebacks, with eight of those happening in 2016 alone. As of now, that’s still an NFL record.
Despite that, none of Stafford’s great efforts translated to postseason success.
Stafford is 0-3 in the playoffs. Along with that, his statistical performance declined one of those three losses. In 2011 vs. the Saints, Stafford threw for 380 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions, with a QB rating of 97. Then came the infamous 2014 playoff game vs. the Cowboys. He threw for 323 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and an 87.7 QB rating. Not to forget, he also had two fumbles. Then there’s his last appearance in 2016 vs. the Seahawks. This performance was by far Stafford’s worst. In this game, he tallied 208 passing yards.
While it will be shocking to see No.9 leave Detroit, it’s nowhere near as stunning as what the Lions got in return for him.
The Lions robbed the Rams like a thief in the night.
Let’s keep it all the way funky about Stafford.
He is an aging quarterback. And with the Lions, he only provided a couple of feel-good moments. At the start of the next NFL season, Stafford will be 33 years old. He isn’t a washed-up quarterback, but his window to compete for a Super Bowl is closing. One can surmise this is why he requested that the Lions trade him.
There was much speculation about what type of value the Lions would receive. Many fans screamed for the Lions to acquire a first-round pick in this year’s draft. As mentioned above, that didn’t happen.
However, this is what did happen.
The Lions are going through “retooling” in all facets of their organization. It’s part of the reason that newly-hired Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell received a reported six-year deal. And for a team that is rebuilding from the ground up, draft picks are needed.
After completing their Saturday night heist, the Lions will now have two first-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 draft. Now two things are must be addressed about these picks. Firstly, after acquiring Stafford, there is an expectation that the Rams will be Super Bowl contenders again in the next two years. If that happens, the picks the Lions received will be late first-rounders.
Secondly, who cares? A first-round pick is still a first-round pick.
Before the Saturday night trade, the Lions poached Brad Holmes from the Rams, hiring him as their new GM. Along with that, the Lions hired experienced NFL executive John Dorsey. Both Holmes and Dorsey carry an impressive track record for finding and acquiring talent. For Holmes, he scouted 25 Pro Bowl selections for the Rams during his time as director of scouting. In Dorsey’s case, his moves are responsible for the Packers, Chiefs, and Browns’ recent success. In a GM role for all three of those teams, he drafted Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and some guy named Patrick Mahomes.
With those two men in the Lions’ front office, fans should expect them to find talent with those picks.
Oh yeah, the Lions also have Jared Goff.
After the dust settled on the Lions-Rams trade, fans across social media ranted and raved about what the Lions got in return, outside of Jared Goff.
Goff, 26, is already receiving mixed reviews in Detroit, and he has yet to put on a Lions jersey. There are fans on social media who feel that Goff is not the same caliber as Matthew Stafford. And there’s some truth to that. Nonetheless, Goff has something that Stafford is hoping to accomplish with his new team: playoff success.
Goff has several playoff wins and a Super Bowl appearance. And in his lone Super Bowl, his Rams team lost to the New England Patriots, led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. If anyone watches football, they should know it’s no shame in losing to that pairing. There’s also this recent postseason play. Goff game-managed the Rams to a 30-20 Wildcard victory over the Seahawks. With a broken thumb, Goff threw for 155 yards and one touchdown.
He’s shown that he can be a poised leader when it matters most.
Now let’s be honest about one thing. Goff more than likely won’t be a long-term option for the Lions at quarterback. The Lions have the No.7 pick in the upcoming draft, and there is an expectation they’ll select a quarterback. Despite that, instead of throwing a rookie QB into the fire on day one, the Lions now have a guy with Super Bowl experience as its bridge QB.
Goff is a good enough quarterback to keep the team respectable while the Lions retool the roster from the ground up. And just like the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill, a change of scenery could do wonders for Goff. After all, he’s only 26 years old. Goff also has another thing working for him. Brad Holmes scouted him. With this fact at hand, Holmes will know the pieces that Goff needs around him to be successful in Detroit.
There is no telling future holds for the Lions. For the first time in 12 years, the organization (and its fanbase) are entering uncharted waters. Regardless, the new regime crushed yet another move, even if it had to come at the expense of losing the organization’s mainstay.