Detroit Lions: Sunday is likely Matthew Stafford’s final act

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

You’ll need to call the National Guard to keep Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford from playing Sunday.

The greatest quarterback in Detroit Lions history is beaten, battered, but Matthew Stafford is preparing to take the field for perhaps one last time as a Lion.  Stafford will try to play through not only his lingering thumb injury, along with a rib injury, but now a sprained ankle that limited him to just one series in Week 16 against Tampa Bay.

After not being able to put any weight on his ankle, the Detroit Lions called for the cart to take Stafford to the locker room to get that ankle X-rayed; the franchise quarterback refused to ride it, instead opted to hobble into the bowels of Ford Field.

It’s undeniable, Stafford is tough as nails, and it comes with no surprise he’s poised to start Sunday against Minnesota in a meaningless game for both franchises.

There is a real good chance that this will be the last time we see Stafford donning a Lions uniform as the franchise is set to endure yet another regime change.  Usually, when an organization hires a new head coach but specifically a general manager they typically prefer to move on with their vision of rebuilding the franchise.  Generally, a 33-year old quarterback who’s often banged up isn’t the path chosen; whether we like it or not.

Recently Stafford addressed the trade rumors, and may I add, in typical Stafford fashion.

"“I mean, that’s so hypothetical and so far into the future, it’s tough for me to even wrap my head around that,” Stafford said. “So many decisions that are out of my control. All I know is where ever I’m at — if I’m here, if I’m somewhere else — I’ll be doing everything I can to be the best football player and as good of a teammate as I possibly can be. And that’s something that I’ve always tried to be, and always will continue to try to be as long as I play this game.”"

Stafford has two years left on his current deal that carries a dead cap number of $19 million in 2021, followed by $6 million in 2022.

I expect the Detroit Lions will explore all options this offseason, and there should be a market for Stafford’s services, particularly with a playoff contender.  Stafford won’t be the only quarterback looking for a new home. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz recently lost his gig to rookie signal-caller Jalen Hurts and will certainly be on the move.  Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo are two other names to watch this offseason as well; both may have fallen out of favor with their respected organizations.

I urge you to try and enjoy Sunday’s game regardless of the outcome, and as long as Stafford is playing because there is a real possibility, this is the last time we see him leading the Detroit Lions offense.

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Over 12 seasons, Stafford has thrown for 44,816 yards, 279 touchdowns, 143 interceptions, completing 62.6 percent of his passes along with maintaining a career quarterback rating of 89.8.  It goes without saying, the quarterback has led his team to the playoffs in the past but failed to earn a single postseason victory.