Controversial Pro Bowler Headlines top Matthew Stafford Replacements

Jameis Winston

Getty Jameis Winston celebrates a win for the Saints in 2020.

The Detroit Lions are prepared to move on from Matthew Stafford in the coming weeks, and when they do so, it will open up a gaping hole on the roster at one of the most important positions on the team.

There’s going to be a new quarterback in place in Detroit starting soon, and more than likely a pair of them considering the draft could be the top avenue the Lions will look at to fill the void. Free agency is likely to bring the first new addition to the Lions once the Stafford situation is resolved. When that happens, there are plenty of intriguing options for the Lions in terms of placeholders that could compete with a rookie.

What names make the most sense in free agency for the Lions to remember? Here’s a look at who should be their first targets after the decision is reached with Stafford potentially soon.

Jameis Winston

Far and away, the best potential name on the free agency list could be Winston given his age and talent level. At just 27, Winston is young enough to bridge the Lions for a season or more easily if they take one of the top names in the draft. He’s been in the league a while, and while his ceiling might now be a backup quarterback, he could be a solid placeholder and a guy to give the Lions some good snaps and keep them competitive in the meantime. Winston was in New Orleans last year, so he could have a connection with Dan Campbell. Though folks will mock him, Winston is no pushover in terms of talent either, having led the NFL in passing yards during 2019. He could be the right move for the Lions in the short-term.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Though Fitzpatrick is aging in a big way, he hasn’t shown many signs of it. At times last season, he looked like the best quarterback in Miami even with the play of young Tua Tagovaila taken into account. Fitzpatrick might want to start and not serve as a bridge again, so if this is the case, the Lions will have to negotiate with him as it relates to play time and figure that out. Even such, Fitzpatrick proved that he still has some zip left in the arm late last season and could be a good veteran to bring along a rookie quarterback and prepare him for the rigors of the league and the position. He should be Detroit’s second call.

Cam Newton

At 32, Newton probably doesn’t have much left as a starter, especially given what he went through this past season on the field. Even such, he’s a quality veteran player and New England didn’t hesitate to bring him into their locker room. To this end, Newton could be a great move if the Lions were to draft a player like Justin Fields, Zach Wilson or Trey Lance. All three have similar styles, so having Newton around to show them the ropes could be a good move for the team. The hope would be the rookie would come along quick in this scenario, but until they did, Newton would allow the Lions to be competitive.

Tyrod Taylor

In terms of ties to Detroit’s new braintrust, there likely won’t be a player that checks as many boxes as Taylor does. Anthony Lynn and Taylor worked together in both Buffalo as well as Los Angeles, so the connection would be natural. John Dorsey also traded for him in Cleveland. Taylor might already be in the mix for these reasons. The only question is if Taylor would accept the offer and if the Lions would want him when all was said and done. There figures to be plenty of options for the team this offseason, and Taylor might be a bit farther down the list than some would think no matter the connections with the Detroit staff. Even such, he could provide the Lions some stability given he has been there and done that in terms of this type of role.

Jacoby Brissett

Similar to some of these other names, Brissett’s ceiling is more of a backup now, but he still has started enough that he can give the Lions some good snaps and bring along a rookie if he was the choice. How much does Brissett bring to the table for the Lions at 29 over a guy like Winston? That will be the big question, but if the market gets hot and outpaces what the Lions want to pay, Brissett could make sense given he has started before and has a respectable 31 career touchdowns to his name.

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