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Why did the Lions trade Matthew Stafford? Rethinking the blockbuster deal with Rams




Matthew Stafford had long been the face of the Lions.

He was the first overall draft selection in the 2009 NFL Draft after a standout career with Georgia, and he immediately took over as the team’s starting quarterback on Week 1 of the 2009 season.

Stafford holds just about every quarterback record out there in Detroit. His 45,109 passing yards are almost 30,000 more than the second. His 282 touchdown passes are more than 150 away from second. With 74 quarterback wins, he has 21 more than the next closest QB. His 62.6 completion rate is better than any QB who has completed at least one full season as a starter. In fact, while he is by no means a mobile quarterback, he ranks 21st in rushing touchdowns (14) and 33rd in rushing yards (1,198).

That’s why it was certainly an odd season for Detroit fans to see him in Los Angeles and another quarterback in the middle of the Lions. But why did the team ever move on with the franchise icon? Sporting News delves into what led to his departure.

MORE: Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford Trading Details

Why did the Lions trade Matthew Stafford?

For all the individual success that Stafford found with the Lions, there was never a question of team success.

During his 12 years with the Lions, Detroit had a winning record only four times and reached the playoffs only three times. Every time they arrived in the postseason, the result was the same: an exit in the Wild Card round.

Stafford, 33 years old at the time of the transaction, finished the season 17th all-time in passing yards with 45,109 and 16th all-time in passing touchdowns. He came into his eighth season with at least 4,000 passing yards. The talent was clearly still there, and although he got older there, he has had an excellent legacy. He just needed a real shot at a ring.

Detroit was clearly not going to give him that chance anytime soon. After a third season in a row in the basement of the NFC North, the Lions switched coaches and geared up for an organizational overhaul.

Stafford decided he wanted out. After the end of the 2020 season, the Detroit Free Press reported: that the Lions and Stafford had agreed to seek a trade.

After his trade to the Rams, he explained to the Free Press: that while he never saw himself playing anywhere else, he wanted a chance to play for a championship.

“I’ve always wanted to play in those big games, I feel like I’m going to excel in those situations,” he told the Free Press. “I wanted to shoot my shot.”

Stafford explained that he and his wife, Kelly Stafford, began talks to leave Detroit before the 2020 season started. He said that once it became clear that another opportunity would come with the general manager and head coach, he felt it was time for him to move on.

MORE: Here’s What The Lions Could Have Received For Matthew Stafford Instead Of Jared Goff

“I shared my disappointment that I couldn’t bring them what I ultimately wanted, a championship,” Stafford told the Free Press. “It was a difficult conversation, probably the hardest I’ve ever had, but one where I honestly walked out blown away by their support and their understanding. The respect. I mean, it was pretty incredible.”

While the Lions could have turned down the chance to trade him and keep him in Detroit, where he still had two years left, they agreed to part ways with their franchise quarterback. The deal also made sense from Detroit’s point of view. With Stafford as quarterback, they’d probably win enough games to keep them out of the lower draft pick streak, and they’d hold about $43 million in capspace over the next two years to pay him.

There were several contenders interested in making a run for him, including the Panthers, Broncos, Colts, 49ers, Washington and the Patriots, but it was the Rams that ultimately enticed the Lions. Detroit hosted Jared Goff, a veteran QB who could win a few more games and keep the team competitive, first round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a third round pick in 2021.

For a rebuilding team like the Lions, that’s a lot to work with, even if the picks will end up being a little lower as the Rams are expected to be a perpetual competitor.

And for Stafford, it instantly took him to a Super Bowl powerhouse who instantly became a favorite choice of many to win the title this year.

Matthew Stafford compared to Jared Goff

There isn’t much of a comparison between how the two quarterbacks have played this season. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that Stafford has the much better receiving corps with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods before the injury and now Odell Beckham Jr., as well as a better line of attack.

But simply looking at the 2021 stats of the two quarterbacks, Stafford has been by far the better QB this season. Stafford has completed 67.7 percent of his passes with 3,014 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns and eight interceptions in 10 games played to date. He is fourth in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns this season, and his Rams sit at 7-3, equaling the fourth-best record in the NFL.

Goff and the Lions are having a hard time. mighty. Goff has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 2,109 yards with eight touchdown passes and six interceptions in nine games. With Goff as starter, Detroit has gone 0-8-1. He missed Detroit’s Week 10 game with injury, and Tim Boyle was even worse as a starter, passing just 77 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns in a 13-10 loss to the Browns.




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