Lions Turned Down Massive AFC Offer for Matthew Stafford: Report

John Elway

Getty John Elway looks on before a game.

On Sunday, Detroit Lions made the first blockbuster trade of the offseason, nabbing Jared Goff, a pair of future first-round picks and a 2021 third-round pick from the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Matthew Stafford.

In the days since the deal was first reported, other possible trades have been discussed. Reports vary on who the runner-up was in Stafford sweepstakes, but apparently, the Denver Broncos did make a compelling offer for Stafford.

According to the Dan Patrick Show on Thursday, the Broncos dangled their No. 9 overall pick in April plus second-year signal-caller Drew Lock for Detroit’s consideration. The deal, though, didn’t move the needle enough for the Lions.

Here is what host Dan Patrick had to say:

I just learned this from a source. The Denver Broncos made a pretty good run at Matthew Stafford. Here’s the deal they offered the Detroit Lions. They offered their first-round pick, ninth overall and Drew Lock for Matthew Stafford. But Drew Lock is not as good as Jared Goff, and though you’re getting the ninth pick overall, if I’m Detroit, I still like what they did. But Denver did try, Denver tried to trade their ninth pick overall and Drew Lock to the Lions.

Obviously, the Lions liked the idea of acquiring a haul of draft picks and a more accomplished young quarterback in Goff. Regardless, this is an interesting deal to ponder if it was indeed on the table.

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Broncos Analyst Believed Denver Offered Best Deal

Every city and team with a need at quarterback believed their club should’ve been the one to land Stafford. Before the trade played out over the weekend, Mike Klis of 9 News in Denver made that case for the Broncos, suggesting Denver should’ve been in play for the Pro Bowler thanks to the presence of the “league’s top trade-market commodity” in Drew Lock.

In a January 28 piece, Klis suggested that the Lions should have looked to the Broncos as a trade partner with a deal centered around Lock, who could give them the young quarterback with the experience they may crave, plus picks. As Klis maintained, no other suitor the Lions could trade with could offer such a deal.

He wrote:

But consider the viewpoint of the Lions, who have already announced they will trade Stafford, their starting QB of the past 12 seasons. If you’re only other QBs are career backup Chase Daniel and David Blough, do you want to work a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, who don’t have a QB to swap after Philip Rivers just retired and veteran backup Jacoby Brissett is about to hit free agency, or the Broncos, who probably have the best young QB in Lock among all the teams who may be in the Stafford market?

Most of the trade speculation involving Stafford has the Lions asking for a first-round draft pick. But they are not expected to get a first-round pick better than the No. 7 overall selection they already have. At No. 7, the Lions figure to get the third or fourth-best QB in the draft. Would Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance be ready to start Game 1 of the 2021 season? No way. Only Trevor Lawrence in this year’s draft class is worthy of an opening-day start.

Of all the teams the Lions can dance with, it’s easy to assume Denver would be among their most preferred partners.

Obviously, the Lions and mew head coach Dan Campbell didn’t like Lock as much as Goff, and that, in addition to the extra draft capital, was what tipped the scales in the end. The Broncos, who are continuing to add to an influx of young talent on offense, likely didn’t want to pay the huge cost of extra picks.

Considering the offer in question was only Lock and a 2021 first-rounder, the Lions certainly did better dealing with Los Angeles. Many might not have felt that the Rams or Goff would be on the table, but the deal came together quickly and ended up as a surprise.

Lions Turned Down Multiple Trade Packages for Stafford

With as many as seven teams interested, the Lions had plenty of big offers to sort through shortly after announcing the 32-year-old veteran was on the trade block on January 23.

Rumors have held that the Carolina Panthers were close by offering up the eighth overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, but it’s possible Denver may have been a bit closer given Lock’s potential presence in the deal.

Still, nabbing three picks in the first three rounds of the next two drafts, including a pair of first-rounders, is big for Detroit’s rebuild in the years ahead. That’s true whether or not Goff works out at quarterback.

Regardless, plenty of teams made their pitch and it sounds as if the Broncos did make a strong one for Stafford.

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