Matthew Stafford was the subject of many rumors in the days before and after his eventual trade to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and a pick haul, but the biggest could have been one that came from a power out east.
According to reports, Stafford didn’t want to go to the New England Patriots, and the team was scrubbed from the final cut of destinations. Speculation ran rampant that former Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia was the reason why, given the potential for the pair to have a prickly relationship in Detroit.
That might not be the entire case, though. According to a piece by Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press, the Stafford and Patricia relationship could be overblown, but questions about whether the Patriots were the right fit for other reasons surfaced.
As Albom wrote and Sports Illustrated writer Albert Breer summarized, the rejection had a bit more to do with where the Patriots are currently at as a team rather than one former coach.
A lot of people assumed that the reason that Matthew Stafford didn't want to play for the #Patriots was due to Matt Patricia and him having a bad relationship.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 15, 2021
Stafford’s plea was for the Lions to send him to an immediate contender being he wants to win. To that end, it’s easy to surmise that he simply didn’t see the potential in New England to do that as much as a place like Los Angeles. For Bill Belichick and the modern kings of rings with the Patriots, that realization has to sting more than a bit.
It could be a new world where the Patriots are no longer the gold standard for winning and ring chasing as much as they have been from 2004 until this very moment in time.
Matthew Stafford Reportedly Rejected Patriots Trade
Stafford was on the block for a few weeks as those around the league knew, and as talks intensified, the assumption was the Patriots would be a major player for Stafford when all was said and done. They needed a new quarterback, and a veteran like Stafford could have fit the bill nicely. Apparently, though, Stafford had no intentions of ever going to the Patriots, telling the Lions as much during talks.
According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, sources told him that Stafford had no interest in coming to New England. He wrote:
“And now, for a localized aftershock: Stafford told the Lions they could send him anywhere but New England.
This comes from a source whose team was heavily involved in Stafford trade negotiations but failed to land him. Stafford, of course, is a Ram after Los Angeles sent a huge haul to Detroit for the one-time Pro Bowler.
With a load of cap space and a yawning void at the position, the Patriots figured to be frontrunners for Stafford along with teams like the Colts.
But Stafford apparently nixed the notion of being the guy that replaces the guy that failed to replace THE GUY.”
Replacing Brady, who departed last offseason, could be very unappealing for any quarterback. It’s likely that Stafford took this into consideration, knowing full well that there was nothing he could do short of winning multiple Super Bowls with a rebuilding team to create his own legacy. It certainly also looks as if the Patriots are heading towards that type of rebuild coming up soon.
For one reason or another, Stafford wanted no part in such things with the Patriots.
Patriots Heading for Questionable Future
New England used to have no trouble landing big time players when they were competing for titles year in and year out, but it’s possible that reality says that Tom Brady was a bigger part of that equation than many might want to admit. When Brady left, the Patriots struggled to replace him, and their struggles to do that could spill over into the 2021 season as well depending on what they do at quarterback.
Stafford won’t be heading there to try and give Bill Belichick another shot at winning, and it will be fascinating to see who does when all is said and done. New England may have to draft a player with all of this in mind.