Matthew Stafford’s time in Detroit is coming to an end, with the longtime Lions quarterback and franchise-record holder in numerous categories set to get traded this offseason. In a year that might have a ton of movement at quarterback, Stafford, who is under contract for two more years, may be the first domino to fall in the coming weeks. Which teams are the likely favorites to land the former No. 1 overall pick?
Days after Philip Rivers’ retirement, the Stafford news emerged, making it easy to connect the dots to Indianapolis. The Colts clearly feel they have the roster to compete for a Super Bowl. They play in a dome, which Stafford is used to and probably prefers. And general manager Chris Ballard has already shown that he’ll be aggressive in the trade market, acquiring All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from Niners last year. If Ballard traded a first for a defensive tackle, he’ll certainly consider doing the same for a quarterback. The Colts should be considered the heavy favorites to land Stafford.
New England Patriots
The Cam Newton experiment started off pretty well, but it didn’t go as planned for New England in 2020. Bill Belichick and company know at least solid quarterback play is required to win a championship, and Stafford likely intrigues them at least. Ultimately, the Patriots may feel they can go in another direction at quarterback to get a better value—though Stafford’s contract is a value itself compared to the salaries top quarterback around the league are getting paid.
Washington Football Team
If the Colts aren’t the favorites for Stafford, Washington might be that team. New Washington general manager Martin Mayhew was the GM when the Lions took Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009, and the veteran quarterback figures to cost much less than disgruntled Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has also been connected to Washington. Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke might have something to say about the quarterback position in D.C., but it’d be a surprise if Ron Rivera didn’t take Stafford into serious consideration.
Drew Lock has flashed upside through two seasons, but it sounds like the Broncos are very open to going in another direction at quarterback under new general manager George Paton. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is entering a critical third year at the helm and would probably love to bring in a veteran like Stafford. However, dealing a top-ten pick (Denver is at No. 9) for a quarterback everyone knows will be traded might be a bit too much, so a trade may be more difficult to negotiate than it is for other teams picking later in the first round.
New Orleans Saints
The 49ers and the Rams are both dark horses if they want to move on from their young franchise quarterbacks, but the Saints are the top under-the-radar team to bring in Stafford. New Orleans is definitely high on Taysom Hill, and they are apparently happy with Jameis Winston, too; they may run a two-quarterback system with those two in 2021. However, they were expected to be in on the Tom Brady sweepstakes last offseason before Drew Brees opted to return, so don’t discount Sean Payton and company making a run for Stafford with a roster that arguably has its championship window still open but potentially closing fast.