The Detroit Lions are thinking about what to do with Matthew Stafford and Tua Tagovailoa, and much of the early debate has been centered around shipping Stafford out to accommodate drafting a new quarterback.
But what if the Lions could have their cake and eat it too with both quarterbacks? That’s just the suggestion from Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports. In a segment, Cowherd explains he understands some of the angst about Detroit moving on from Stafford financially, but offers what he sees as a suitable solution.
According to Cowherd, the Lions should draft Tagovailoa and sit him behind Stafford for a while.
“Bob Quinn’s the GM and Matt Patricia’s the head coach. This is their last year, they’re fighting for their careers. If you’re freaking out about the cap hit, draft Tua, sit him for a year. Sit him,” he said. “Let him learn from a pro in Matthew Stafford. He’s still the best player available and the most impactful player available at the No. 3 spot.”
As Cowherd continued, he believes the Lions should avoid selecting a cornerback or defender, because even though the pick is safe and could help the roster directly, it might not help the team do as much winning as hoped.
“I got news for you. You’re going to pick that corner, you’re going to go 8-8 and you’re both out of work because Minnesota and Green Bay are going to be really good. This opportunity is very unique,” he said. “I think Aaron Rodgers is declining, Kirk Cousins is limited and Mitch Trubisky, enough said. Here’s your window. Add juice. Add the best player in the market at that position and if the salary cap freaks you out, draft him and sit him for a year. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. Sit him behind a pro in Matthew Stafford.”
There’s a measure of truth to that, and it’s possible the plan could make sense. Even such, Cowherd admits he doesn’t think the Lions would be so bold as to make this move in April.
It is an intriguing thought for the team, however.
Colin Cowherd Previously Criticized Lions
Interestingly, Cowherd took time out to address the Lions situation on his show last week, and laid out a game plan for what he would do if he were the Lions and their ownership team during the draft and the offseason.
As Cowherd implied, it’s time for the Lions to shake things up and get a bit more interesting, because they’ve been far too passive and boring for years. The only way to do that as he sees it is to draft Tua Tagovailoa and put Matthew Stafford on the trading block.
“Look at the top 10 teams drafting. Who’s the team we’re not talking about? Detroit. Detroit’s a bad franchise. Detroit’s bad and boring. If I ran that franchise or owned it, go draft a quarterback. Nothing against Matt Stafford, but see what you can get. Matt Stafford, 11 years, 0 playoff wins. No division titles. Put him on the market and see what you can get,” he said.
Cowherd said the buzz factor has been lacking with the Lions, and drafting a player like Jeffrey Okudah isn’t going to help that. Instead, he thinks it’s time for the Lions to move on from an average Stafford.
“What’s the loyalty? ‘Well (Stafford’s) the best we’ve ever had.’ That is a you problem. Draft better. If I got Tua, and I got a cornerback from the Big Ten, and I own that team and run that team, who’s changing history? A corner? Yeah that will be exciting. You hear they got a corner in Detroit,” Cowherd said through laughter.
As Cowherd finished, it’s nothing against Stafford personally or professionally, but rather, everything against the way the Lions do business, which is to be both irrelevant and boring as he sees it.
“(Stafford’s) record in the NFL, 69-79-1 as a starter. It’s Andy Dalton with a better arm. I’m not disputing talent but I’m over talent. Win games,” he said. “No. 3 you’re gonna settle for a corner? Roll the dice. And now Stafford is hurt. He’s past his prime, he’s banged up. Great kid. There’s value for Matt Stafford, but the franchise, are you just going to draft a corner? You think that’s going to sell a ticket? That’s going to sell a jersey? Give me a break. Detroit doesn’t have a brand and bad teams do. Roll the dice. Take a risk.”
As boring as a pick like Okudah might be, it could be just what the doctor ordered for a Lions team which was miserable on defense in 2019 and struggled on the back end. Theoretically, the Lions could view it as already having their quarterback in the fold and not needing to take a chance on someone like Tagovailoa, no matter his talent.
It’s an interesting take to say the least, and it only adds to the discussion as it relates to how the Lions should approach this offseason.
ESPN NFL Analyst Wants Lions Drafting Tua Tagovailoa
Detroit must take Tua Tagovailoa according to ESPN’s Bart Scott and start over by dealing Matthew Stafford. It’s the only way Scott sees the team moving forward and crafting a brighter future for themselves.
“I think about that sweet spot. The sweet spot for me is the third pick with the Detroit Lions,” Scott recently said on Get Up. “I don’t see how the Detroit Lions let Tua Tagovailoa get past them.”
According to Scott, who’s said before that Stafford should be on the move via trade this offseason, the timing is perfect for the Lions to start over with a talented young player in Tagovailoa.
“They understand they have had Matthew Stafford. He’s only 31 years old. We’ve seen what it looks like to have Stafford for 11 years. You’re not going to win a Super Bowl with him,” Scott said. “If you’re a struggling coach in this league, you want to press the reset button. You can’t let a guy with arm talent and vision get away. This is your opportunity to get a young gun, start off young, and really be able to trade Matthew Stafford to get some picks to start over with a young core.”
As Scott said, depth should be the first order of business for the Lions, who need to build a more complete team.
“What you need in Detroit is depth, you need talent. The only way you’re going to get talent is by getting rid of your biggest chip, which is Matthew Stafford,” he said.
As it stands now, the Lions have seven draft picks with which to work with this season, including a pair in the fifth round. Adding to that would certainly help them build things up and improve the depth. They could also do this by not trading away Stafford and merely dealing down from their top pick.
Why Lions Could Take Tua Tagovailoa
Could the Lions take the plunge for the pick when all is said and done? According to one top NFL analyst, the answer is yes. According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper, if everything checks out health wise with Tagovailoa, the Lions could decide to select the quarterback with their pick.
Naturally, this could be a smokescreen given draft season is typically lying season. Still, there is no discounting the teams potential need for a quarterback.
Detroit was forced to go with Jeff Driskel and later David Blough as quarterbacks after Matthew Stafford’s injury. Drafting a young quarterback could be considered an important step for the team, but the Lions could also sign a veteran backup instead of drafting a talent like Tagovailoa who could make a case to start faster.
Stafford is still entrenched, so it will be fascinating to see what path Detroit decides to take. Obviously, drafting Tagovailoa and putting him behind Stafford would be unconventional and bold, but it would be a big way to perhaps set the team up well for both now and the future.