Detroit Lions Absolutely Should Not Trade Matthew Stafford

By Brad Berreman

A few weeks ago, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said it’s “good football business” to draft a quarterback “every year or every other year.” Matthew Stafford is locked in atop the depth chart, but with Dan Orlovsky as a backup, the Lions could look to draft a developmental quarterback at some point in the upcoming draft.

Apparently the idea of drafting a quarterback this year brought a question about Stafford’s status, which prompted Quinn to recently say the following, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:

Stafford earned an injury-prone label early in this career, with 19 missed games over his first two seasons after being taken No. 1 overall in 2009. But he has started every game over the last five seasons, which only four other signal callers have done (Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning).

By a lot of measures over the last five seasons, Stafford has been slightly above average among the 48 quarterbacks with at least 500 pass attempts over that span. That list includes completion percentage (61.8 percent; 21st), yards per attempt (7.2; 22nd), touchdown rate (4.5 percent; 18th), interception rate (2.4; 15th) and passer rating (88.5; 14th).

At 28 years old, with physical skills and experience, Stafford is likely to be entering his peak form as a quarterback. A very good finish to the 2015 season looks like a sign of that progress, with 19 touchdowns passes and just two interceptions over the final eight games while competing close to 70 percent of his passes. Losing Calvin Johnson hurts heading into the 2016 season, but it’s pretty clear Stafford is far from a problem for the Lions. And even if he was, there’s the big question of how he would be replaced in the short-term.

Stafford has two years and $33.5 million left on his contract, so that alone would be an obstacle to a trade even it was being seriously entertained by Quinn. The Lions would do well to bring a potential quarterback of the future into the fold by the end of draft proceedings next Saturday, but trading Stafford would be a foolish move.

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