The Lions’ agreement to explore trade possibilities for Stafford was based on discussions between Stafford and the team about a parting, according to the person with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither side was commenting publicly. ESPN and NFL Network reported Stafford and the Lions are expected to part ways this offseason.
It was not immediately clear what the Lions will seek in return for Stafford, who has two years and $43 million remaining on his contract. Stafford is to make $20 million in the 2021 season and $23 million in 2022. He is due to be paid a $10 million roster bonus in March on the fifth day after the NFL free agent market opens and trades officially can resume, meaning a deal would be probable by then if one is going to happen.
The Lions are coming off a 5-11 season and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year. They last reached the postseason in the 2016 season, and they last had a playoff victory in January 1992. They fired Matt Patricia as their coach and Bob Quinn as their general manager two days after a Thanksgiving loss to the Texans. The Lions just hired Dan Campbell as their coach and Brad Holmes as their GM.
Now it appears their retooling will be even more elaborate. The Lions have the seventh pick in the draft and could seek Stafford’s replacement on draft night.
Stafford arrived in Detroit as the top selection in the 2009 draft. He has been a durable and productive quarterback throughout his pro career, playing through injuries and starting all 16 games in nine of the past 10 seasons.
He has thrown for 45,109 yards and 282 touchdowns in a dozen NFL seasons. He threw for 5,038 yards in 2011 and has topped 4,000 yards in seven other seasons. He threw for 4,084 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2020.
Watson is the top quarterback available if the Texans opt to trade him. He reportedly is displeased that the Texans told him he would have input on the offseason overhaul of their organization and then failed to follow through. The Eagles could seek to trade Wentz after he was benched late this season in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts. But dealing him would create a sizable salary cap hit, and the team’s new coach, Nick Sirianni, could try to make things work with Wentz in Philadelphia.