Former Pro Bowler Called Favorite to Replace Cam Newton

Getty Matthew Stafford

Most believe the New England Patriots will move on from Cam Newton after this season. Now, one NFL insider thinks the team will turn to another former Pro Bowler to replace him.

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Matthew Stafford is Considered a Frontrunner

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King spoke with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk this week to discuss the Patriots’ next move at quarterback after this season. While New England isn’t mathematically eliminated from the postseason as of yet, their chances are the slimmest of slim at this point, and most have already written them off — King included.

Under the expectation that the Patriots’ offseason will begin on January 4 (the conclusion of the regular season), King suspects head coach and general manager Bill Belichick will have some extra time to hash out their plan for the direction of the offense.

King is sure that won’t include Newton.

Quite a few quarterbacks were mentioned, but King sounded the most intrigued and optimistic about the Patriots potentially acquiring the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford via trade. When Stafford’s name came up, King said:

That’s an interesting one because Matthew Stafford probably has five good years left. Bill Belichick probably has five good years left. So, that would actually make some sense to me. But again, the problem is the money you’ve got to pay him. Do the Patriots want to pay their quarterback 20 percent of the salary cap? I just don’t think so.

King went on to give the impression that Stafford would be one of the favorites to land in New England if the Patriots are willing to part with draft assets and pay his hefty salary.

The Lions could release Stafford this offseason, but that seems unlikely considering they would have to absorb a cap hit of just under $25 million. If Detroit waits until after the 2021 season to part ways, the dead money hit would drop significantly to about $9.9 million for a cut or trade before June 1, 2022 or $4.9 million post-June 1, per Spotrac.

It hasn’t been the Patriots’ style to pay so much for any one player, but perhaps a new era of football in New England, combined with Belichick approaching the end of his coaching career, could inspire a more daring move.

What Stafford Could Potentially Bring

Stafford still has just about as much arm talent as any quarterback in the NFL. There isn’t a throw he can’t make on the football field, and he has had some amazing seasons statistically, though postseason success has alluded him.

In 12 seasons with the Lions, Stafford, who was the team’s No. 1 overall pick in 2009 out of Georgia, has thrown for 44,303 yards (17th all-time) and 277 touchdowns (16th all-time). Stafford has also completed 62.5 percent of his throws in his career.

From an age, talent and experience standpoint, the Patriots would have a tough time finding someone better than Stafford to be their next signal-caller. He’ll be 33 in February, which means he likely has at least three years of high-level play left in the tank.

Who knows, as King pointed out, that might place him in perfect alignment with Belichick, although it’s a massive investment and would likely spell the end for Jarrett Stidham with the team. Consider it a longshot at this point, but still consider it.

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