The Detroit Lions and their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, reportedly will mutually part ways this offseason, and the New England Patriots absolutely should come calling.
Stafford has two years left on his contract and is due just $20 million in 2021 and $23 million in 2022. That’s a reasonable contract for a quarterback of Stafford’s caliber.
League sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Detroit is expected to receive “at least a first-round pick” in a trade for Stafford.
The Patriots hold the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and need a quarterback with only Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala under contract for the 2021 season. The Patriots are expected to have over $60 million in cap room this offseason, as well, so they have the space to add Stafford and build around him.
The Patriots think highly of Stafford, according to a source.
The biggest question, as it relates to Stafford, is whether he would be willing to come to New England after the Patriots added former Lions head coach Matt Patricia to their staff. Stafford and Patricia did not always have the strongest relationship in Detroit, per MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke. We’ve heard the same. Patricia reportedly will be more involved in personnel than coaching in New England, however, and Stafford would be working closer with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots will have all necessary intel on Stafford thanks to Patricia, however.
Stafford completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 4,084 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 16 games this season. In his career, Stafford has completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 282 yards with 144 interceptions. Stafford, the 2009 No. 1 overall pick, will be 33 years old in February.
The top four quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft are not expected to be available at No. 15 overall, and Alabama’s Mac Jones, the fifth-ranked option, might not be worthy of a first-round pick. Dak Prescott, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston and Jacoby Brissett are among the top quarterbacks set to hit free agency this offseason, though Prescott might not make it there before being franchised or re-signed by the Dallas Cowboys. Cam Newton, who started for the Patriots in 2020, also is a free agent. Jimmy Garoppolo, who was drafted by the Patriots, also could become available in a trade or via release.
In 2018, Belichick said Stafford is “as good as there is in football” as a downfield passer.
“He does an excellent job of seeing down the field in all situations,” Belichick said at the time. “No matter how much pressure he?s under, he seems to find guys down there. Sometimes it appears that they?re covered, but he can put the ball where (Marvin) Jones in particular, but also (Kenny) Golladay, can go up and make plays on the ball.
“He?s very accurate and he?s got a strong arm. He can stand in there and make those throws, with or without a rush, in or out of the pocket, stationary or on the run. He?s extremely dangerous ? one of the very best in the league for sure.”
Jones and Golladay also are free agents this offseason. One of the two wide receivers could give Stafford a familiar target if the QB lands in New England, though we’re getting out ahead of ourselves.
Stafford is a possibility for New England. It remains to be seen if New England is an option for Stafford, however.