Michael Lombardi, a former NFL executive who spent time working alongside Bill Belichick in New England, wrote Tuesday on The Athletic that the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts are the “front-runners” to acquire Stafford.
Here’s Lombardi’s breakdown:
As for the other NFC North quarterback making waves, Stafford will have many suitors. The Colts and the Patriots are the front-runners as they’re the two teams that have the cap room to handle Stafford right away. Stafford has a $20 million cap charge that cannot be reworked until he is on his new team. The team that trades for him must have the room to take on his deal, then they can lower his cap charge. Many teams can handle his cash and salary; few can handle that initial charge, which is why the Colts and Patriots are in front.
This sounds like Lombardi simply is connecting the dots, rather than reporting the Patriots definitely will be in the mix for Stafford. Perhaps it’s informed speculation. Who knows?
It’d be worthwhile for New England and Indianapolis to at least consider trading for Stafford, though.
Jarrett Stidham seemingly has done little to win over the Patriots, who are going back to the QB well after an underwhelming 2020 season from Cam Newton. And the Colts must find a new signal-caller with Philip Rivers retiring and Jacoby Brissett, like Newton, set to hit free agency.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Tuesday, citing sources, that teams already are reaching out to the Lions to initiate trade talks. And NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport added Wednesday there’s “significant interest” in Stafford, with a third of the league already calling about the 2009 No. 1 overall pick.
This might increase Detroit’s asking price, with Rapoport suggesting the Lions should garner at least a first-round pick in return. But Stafford isn’t the only quarterback available right now.
All in all, it figures to be a wild few months across the NFL.