Detroit Lions News: Matthew Stafford’s health vital for pending decision

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Should the Detroit Lions start Matthew Stafford for the remaining three regular-season games?

It’s time to protect the investment made way back in 2009.  The Detroit Lions used the first overall pick in the ’09 NFL Draft to select the best quarterback the franchise has seen. Still, with his future a bit murky, the organization would be wise to roll with Chase Daniel and David Blough for the remaining three weeks of the 2020 season.

As you know, I am a Matthew Stafford fan, not an apologist, a fan.  The elite quarterbacks find a way to elevate the players around them, find a way to win a playoff game, both things Stafford has failed to do.  There is nothing wrong with being an above-average quarterback; that is just the difference between being a top-ten quarterback and top-five at the position.

We know one thing, Stafford is tough as nails. He’s proved it time and time again. Still, after suffering a serious back injury in each of the last two seasons, it may be time to shut him down in 2020 and re-evaluate the franchise’s direction while having a healthy Stafford heading into the offseason.

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In Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Stafford was scrambling for a first down but failed to get down quick enough before being sandwiched by a pair of Packer’s defenders.  He’d stay in the game to hand the ball off to Kerryon Johnson, who’d capped off an impressive fourth-quarter drive with a touchdown run but would not be able to return due to a rib injury he suffered on the hit.

The Detroit Lions reported that Stafford’s X-rays came back negative on Monday, which is a good thing, but head coach Darrell Bevell mentioned he’s extremely sore, leaving his availability for the weekend’s tilt with Tennessee in question.

Bevell also mentioned Stafford’s toughness and that he’d likely be lobbying to play, but that is where Team President Rod Wood or principal owner Shelia Ford Hamp need to step in and shut Stafford down for the remaining three games of the season.

It’s something Bevell won’t willingly do, as he continues not only to audition for Detroit’s head coaching vacancy, he’s also trying to garner attention throughout the league.  Bevell has aspirations to remain an NFL head coach, so Detroit’s overall performance over the next three weeks really means something to him.  He’d have a much better chance to win a game or two with Stafford under center rather than Daniel.

I believe Bevell is destined to return to an offensive coordinator role, whether it is with the Lions or elsewhere next season. Still, with even the slightest of experience, a head coaching opportunity may once again arise, especially knowing how the NFL coaching carousel goes.

Stafford’s health means more to the organization than Bevell’s last three weeks as the interim head coach.  Now, I think Bevell’s done a fantastic job, and his positive attitude is a breath of fresh air, but we know as soon as these next three weeks are finished, so are his duties as head coach.  I would like Bevell to be retained as OC under the next regime but understand if he’s not.

Stafford’s future, on the other hand, is up in the air.  Will the next regime prefer to build with a cheap, young quarterback through the draft or choose to hand the keys back to Stafford for another year or two?

Much of that depends on who is hired, but a lot may depend on Stafford’s trade market.  If the veteran is healthy, there will be a market, and if the market includes a first-round pick, the organization may opt for the $10-plus million in total savings for the 2021 season.  If the Detroit Lions choose to trade Stafford prior to June 1st of 2021, the dead cap number is a whopping $24.85 million according to Spotrac.  That move will save the Lions $10.1 million.

If the Lions decided to trade Stafford after June 1st, the dead cap number is $14.9 million in 2021, followed by $9.9 million in 2022, but saving the team an even $20 million in 2021.

There will be a trade market for Stafford if the Lions decide to go that route.  A few teams that could use his services are the San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, or Washington Football Team, just to mention a few.  You insert Stafford on either of those teams, and suddenly you have a playoff contender.

Stafford has completed nearly 64% of his passes tossing for 3,522 yards, 22 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 2020.

Next. Matthew Stafford should get out while he still can. dark

It will be a busy offseason for the organization that is in the market for a new general manager, a new head coach, and possibly a new quarterback.