Matthew Stafford has only been on the trade market since Saturday afternoon, but rumors about where the Pro Bowl quarterback could be heading next have been swirling ever since.
CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora backed up an initial report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Saturday that the Detroit Lions are indeed going to be set on trading Stafford. According to La Canfora, the Indianapolis Colts have been monitoring the Stafford situation and are “prepared to pounce” on a move to acquire the former No. 1 overall pick.
Can confirm Lions are committed to trading Matt Stafford. Retooling with young GM/HC and looking to build thru draft. There will be a robust market. Have heard for quite some time the Colts were waiting to see what happens in Detroit and prepared to pounce a la Buckner last year
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 23, 2021
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has also reported that the Lions will begin listening to trade offers this coming week. While a deal could be worked out in the coming weeks, it would not become official until at least March 17, the start of the new league year. Obviously, there will be plenty of quarterback-needy teams in the mix for the established veteran.
Whether the Colts end up making the deal or not is anyone’s guess, but it’s clear the AFC South runner-ups could be very interested in striking a deal considering 2020 starter Philip Rivers announced his retirement on Wednesday.
Colts Mentioned as Best Fit for Stafford
The fit between Indianapolis and Detroit on a Stafford trade has been mentioned in the media for some time, and it began to pick up steam again on Saturday. Right after Stafford’s availability was revealed, a few prominent names began to call on Indianapolis to make the move for their next signal-caller.
Sifting through potential Matthew Stafford suitors, the Colts feel like the most seamless fit.
Indy has plenty of cap space (~$65M) to work with, all of its draft picks moving forward, a roster ready to win and will be hard pressed to draft a readymade QB at pick 21. 🤝
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 24, 2021
On Matthew Stafford, the @Colts have Super Bowl-caliber roster.
Even w/ retirement of LT Anthony Castonzo, O-line would offer Matthew Stafford a refuge in pass protection, a physical but diverse backfield with a very promising group of receivers.
That's one team, for sure.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 23, 2021
Matt Stafford to the #Colts makes too much sense for everyone involved. Make it happen.
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) January 24, 2021
Of all the teams that should be all over Stafford, 'tis the @Colts in my humble opinion. Or IMHO, as the kids might say.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 24, 2021
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 23, 2021
Weigh all the factors at play — age, contract, fit, personnel, coaching, need — and it's obvious: Matthew Stafford to the Colts makes so much damn sense.
Indy's gotta make it happen. https://t.co/C1n5Fctogp
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) January 24, 2021
On a recent episode of the Pat McAfee Show, McAfee also tried his best to pitch Stafford on why the Colts make so much sense for him entering his age-33 season.
“Come on down to the Colts,” McAfee said in a message to Stafford on Friday. “We’d love you here. [They’ve] got a good offensive line. They show highlights — Quenton Nelson is always road grading people. … We’ve been very thankful for Philip Rivers, but you saw the fans. [Colts] fans have become Philip Rivers fans. Everyone is on his side. Come on down to Indianapolis. … Great defense, too, they’re building around. Got good specialists. Got a good team. … You’ve been treated poorly up there in Detroit.”
Colts’ Trade Package Would Start With 21st Overall Pick
Indianapolis didn’t address the need for a quarterback early on in the 2020 draft, waiting until the fourth round to select a developmental prospect in Washington’s Jacob Eason. Instead, the club chose a stopgap alternative for their starter, signing Rivers to a one-year, $25 million contract. That decision didn’t hurt them, as the Colts were playoff bound again after their first 11-win season since 2014. The team could arguably be even better in 2021 with Stafford under center, especially if emerging rookie RB Jonathan Taylor and WR Michael Pittman can make a bigger jump in their sophomore seasons.
Indianapolis’ success this season could also work against them though. The Colts are currently locked into the No. 21 overall pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, while other potential suitors — Denver (No. 9), San Francisco (No. 12), New England (No. 15) and Washington (No. 19) — could get Detroit closer to the front of the pack. The Lions also hold the No. 7 overall pick, which combined with another first-rounder, could also be used as ammo to move around the draft board.
Of course, a first-round selection won’t be the only factor in a potential compensation package for the 12-year veteran. Pro Football Network’s Benjamin Allbright believes the starting point on Stafford’s trade value could be close to what the Seattle Seahawks paid for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams last July.
Try this again:
Jamal Adams (and a 4th) cost two 1sts a 3rd and McDougald.
So the Stafford framework starts around there.
QB has a longer shelf life, age isn't as big a concern.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) January 24, 2021
For the Lions, it makes more sense to ship Stafford to an AFC team given they wouldn’t want to regularly compete against him in the NFC for the remainder of his career. Whether Stafford ends up in Indianapolis remains up in the air, but it’s clear many want to see it happen and the chance for a deal looks promising on paper.