Three Matthew Stafford Trade Destinations
By Liam McKeone
The Los Angeles Rams had such a horrific season in 2022 that it nearly killed Sean McVay but everyone is back and ready for more in 2023. Except maybe not Matthew Stafford? The Super Bowl-winning QB suffered an elbow injury in training camp last summer and didn't look right throughout the season, eventually hitting IR with a few injuries. Now rumors are popping up that the franchise is trying to move him, the most public of which coming from former NFL staffer Mike Lombardi on the Pat McAfee Show today.
As noted in the segment, Stafford's contract makes a trade mighty difficult. He's owed a bunch of guaranteed money starting soon after the beginning of the new year and his cap hit will get as high as $50 million over the next few years. Between that and his continually-growing list of injuries suffered, it's a tough sell, even for a guy who was a top-10 (at worst) quarterback in 2021. It also makes no sense that the Rams would even try to ditch him unless they really think Baker Mayfield is that guy. Which... feels unlikely.
But never say never! Here are a few possible landing spots for Stafford if Los Angeles does decide to move on and manage to find a trade partner.
New York Jets
If Aaron Rodgers doesn't work out they may as well try for another over-30 quarterback with one Super Bowl ring under his belt. At least Stafford won recently. He's the type of upgrade the Jets entered the offseason looking for-- a QB good enough to capitalize upon the advantages granted by an elite defense and, above all, is not Zach Wilson. Stafford would cost less than Rodgers and has an equal chance of staying on the field past next year. A pretty decent Plan B.
The Panthers were in the running for Stafford when he was last on the trade block and while much has changed Carolina is still in dire need of a quarterback. With Frank Reich taking the reins it's obvious they'll get one this offseason one way or another. Stafford is obviously not a long-term answer but it's easy to see how the Panthers could talk themselves into him being the right answer because the division is wide-open. The roster is not ready for Super Bowl contention but a playoff appearance is definitely within reach with some decent offensive production and Stafford could provide that.
The Colts have recently made a living as the team where QB careers come to die so it wouldn't be super encouraging for Stafford to end up there. But they certainly belong on the shortlist of candidates. Jim Irsay is not a fan of losing and acquiring a veteran gives the team a better chance of being competitive immediatley than whatever rookie might be available at No. 4 in the draft. If they did land Stafford they can use that pick on an elite defensive talent or trade down for more assets to bolster areas of need, like the offensive line. If it weren't for the fact that the Colts have been burned several times in recent history by a move like this it would actually feel like a smart decision. But decisions do not need to be smart to be approved by Irsay, so it needs to be considered a realistic path.