The New England Patriots have some questions to answer at quarterback in the offseason. One former member of the team believes they should make a blockbuster deal for a former Pro Bowler and No. 1 overall pick.
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Rodney Harrison: Patriots Should Trade for Matthew Stafford
As a current analyst for Sunday Night Football and a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, Rodney Harrison’s opinions about the organization hold some weight with the media and fans. That’s the reason Harrison’s comments about a potential trade for the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford drew some interest this week.
The Lions are likely headed for a rebuild.
On November 28, they fired general manager and former Patriots scouting director Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia, the long-time Patriots defensive coordinator (2012-17). That sort of housecleaning can often precipitate a change at quarterback. That’s especially the case when the quarterback carries a near $35 million cap hit for the 2021 season.
Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, is still one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL. However, the 32-year-old hasn’t been able to lead the Lions to postseason success, and the team has experienced very few regular-season victories during Stafford’s career. In 12 years, Stafford’s quarterback record is 74-87-1.
Still, Harrison believes Stafford could be a good fit for the Patriots. Harrison said this on NBC Sports’ Safety Blitz:
I’ll just say this, if I’m the Patriots, I’m looking to make a trade. I’m looking to make a trade because think about Matthew Stafford on the Patriots if Belichick adds a couple weapons, with his coaching, the young defense. I just think they have a better chance. But yeah, I think it’s time for Matthew Stafford to move on.
The money could be an obvious stumbling block, but Harrison suggests Stafford might be the kind of guy who would be willing to show some financial flexibility. He continued:
A guy like Matthew Stafford who’s made tons of money, he’s financially secure, maybe he can go to the Patriots and say, instead of asking for $30 million a year, ‘Pay me $20 million, pay me $18 million. I’ll take less money to come to a winner, to be able to play on national television, to be able to have coach Belichick as my coach. That’s something to think about. Most players that come to New England are taking pay cuts. I took a pay cut to come to New England, but it was all good.
Will it be all good for Stafford?
Would Stafford Take a Pay Cut?
Harrison is on to something with his suggestion Stafford might be willing to restructure his deal. In fact, he did it earlier this season with the Lions — though the reasons were different.
Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford restructured his contract this week, converting his $7.8 million base salary into signing bonus, per source.
Here's the thinking: the Lions get cap relief and Stafford gets the guarantee of that money in the event any games are cancelled due to COVID.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 13, 2020
This sort of pay cut would be for the purpose of giving his team a better chance to win. That might not be a crazy thought considering Stafford has already raked in more than $200 million in salary throughout his career, per Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation.
Perhaps a trade for Stafford might also lead to soon-to-be free agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay following the only NFL quarterback he’s ever played with to New England.
This is all speculation, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t believe that the addition of Stafford and Golladay to the Patriots’ offense wouldn’t equate to an improved aerial attack in 2021.
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