Many suggest that the Detroit Lions would like to ship franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford out of town before the Super Bowl next weekend. Stafford is sure to garner plenty of attention, and with the uncertainty of star quarterback Deshaun Watson’s status in Houston, it only amplifies Stafford’s price tag in trade talks.
In a perfect world, the Detroit Lions find a trade partner for Matthew Stafford in the coming days, and at the very least before March 21st, when the organization will be on the hook for a $10 million roster bonus.
March 21st is still a long way away, leaving newly appointed General Manager (GM) Brad Holmes and assistant GM John Dorsey plenty of time to lure quarterback-hungry teams into a bidding war if they so choose.
A bidding war is exactly what the Detroit Lions need to maximize the organization’s return for Stafford. It’s also vital for the franchise to land as much draft capital as possible as the Lions head into yet another extensive rebuild.
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Something to track is the status of star quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans. It’s a strained relationship between the two parties, to say the least, and Watson has formally requested a trade.
It’s apparent that Watson felt discouraged after his former head coach and amateur GM Bill O’Brien traded away arguably the leagues’ top pass-catcher DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson and a pair of drafts, none of which were a first-rounder. Although Hopkins had term left on his current deal, he had requested his contract be restructured. Rather than giving in to his demands, O’Brien, in the utmost New England way possible, shipped the ‘disgruntled’ Hopkins to Arizona.
Watson continued to show up to work this past season without his familiar weapon, still leading the league in passing with 4,823 yards along with completing over 70% of his passing attempts in 2020. Watson tossed for 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Like the Detroit Lions, the Texans looked to secure a new GM and head coach this Winter. The organization failed to take Watson’s opinion on the candidates after they had apparently promised they would consult with their 25-year old quarterback.
In fact, the organization failed to interview Eric Bieniemy to be their next head coach, someone Watson had plenty of interest in until news broke Watson requested a trade. After that occurred, the Texans tried to quickly mend fences by throwing Bieniemy’s name around in the conversation, but it was far too late by then.
Houston has since hired Nick Caserio to be their GM and a 65-year old first-time head coach in David Culley. Now, Watson has for a second time formally requested to be traded, but the Texans’ brass refuses to accept that notion at the moment.
The Watson dilemma only helps the Detroit Lions, giving Holmes and the Lions’ organization leverage, knowing that Stafford is the clear top available player at the position.
Notable teams interested in Stafford’s services are the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos, and The Washington Football Team. Surely there are others, but these five teams seem like the front-runners early on in this process.
It may only be for the time being, but the Detroit Lions can capitalize on Houston’s mismanagement of Watson. Detroit can play the field and up the anti as teams start to wonder if and when Watson will become available.
The Lions can play the 49ers against the Colts. Do you want a franchise quarterback? We’ve got one. If you’d prefer to wait on Watson, we can move Stafford elsewhere. Holmes can see who bites and take the best offer that he’s presented.
One more thing to note, Watson’s current deal does include a no-trade clause, which potentially hampers Houston’s trade-bargaining opportunities. Buckle up; things are going to be fairly busy across the league over the coming weeks.