Don't Trade Matthew Stafford, Detroit, Fire Matt Patricia Instead

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In an annual post containing anonymous predictions, one NFL executive predicted to ESPN’s Mike Sando that the Lions would trade Matthew Stafford:

“Stafford signed his current contract in August 2017, before Matt Patricia took over as head coach. The thinking behind this prediction is Patricia could want to set his own course with his own quarterback. Trading Stafford would give the Lions needed draft capital to rebuild their roster. Patricia and [general manager Bob] Quinn both spent a long time in the Patriots’ organization, where they watched Tom Brady very closely,” an insider said. “They are going to want somebody who prepares and manages the game more like Tom.” Another insiders added: “Patricia is going to say, ‘This is not the guy that is going to get me fired,”

It is hard to sum up Stafford’s 2018 season as anything other than bad. His numbers are down across the board from last season and he has often looked baffled on the field in his 10th season. His 23rd-ranked QBR sure does not appear to justify his $27 million annual salary that ranks fifth among all quarterbacks.

Yet, with all that said, some team would hit the lottery if the Lions actually traded the former Pro Bowler.

They key to this prediction is also what is currently wrong with the Lions and Stafford: Matt Patricia. The primary reason Stafford has taken such a steep fall back this season is because of his new coach. In his first year as head coach, Patrica has been unprofessional, petty, and completely in over his head. As Albert Breer noted, his relationship with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has not been ideal, either. Which seemingly has resulted in Stafford’s decline as he has meshed well in Cooter’s offense.

Now let’s be clear, Stafford is not, and will never be a great quarterback. But before Mr. Sit Up Straight took over, he was a top 10 quarterback who weekly did his part for the Lions to be successful. Just last season, Stafford put up some of the best statistics in the NFL while continuously flashing his machine-like arm. The Lions would be absolute fools to move on from him at all, let alone in favor of a coach that has proven nothing and doesn’t look like he is going to prove anything.

Stafford’s contract certainly would make it challenging for some teams to trade for him with a base salary that is fully guaranteed for the 2019 season, but looking over every team’s situation, at least 15 teams would be better off with Stafford as their starting quarterback next season. Zero teams would be better off with Patricia as their head coach.

Stafford wants to remain in Detriot, and the safe bet is he will. But if he does not, it is not hard to envision a scenario where he is having success elsewhere and the Lions are still irrelevant.