Lions Reportedly Asked for All-Pro Defender Within Matthew Stafford Trade

Aaron Donald

Getty Aaron Donald warms up before a 2021 playoff game.

The Detroit Lions recently completed a blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford with the Los Angeles Rams, and the return the team received from the team was fairly handsome.

Detroit landed Jared Goff plus a pair of first-round picks as well as a third-round pick in exchange for Stafford, which was an impressive haul for the team. Even such, the Lions aimed for the stars when the talks for Stafford started. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the team asked for Aaron Donald first before any parameters of the trade were started with the Rams. Naturally, they were shot down.

As the saying goes, all anyone could say was no. In this case, it’s unsurprising that was the answer the Rams gave given Donald might be their most important player when all is said and done on both sides of the ball. Swapping Donald for Stafford would have been very questionable for Los Angeles, especially given the grief the Rams are already receiving for trading multiple picks and Goff in the deal.

Donald was never going anywhere, but you can’t fault the Lions for trying in this case and seeing what the Rams would say.

Aaron Donald’s History With Lions

Donald has long been an object of affection in Detroit given what happened the year he was drafted. In 2014, the Lions had the choice between Donald and tight end Eric Ebron when they were selecting. The team chose Ebron for their offense thanks to the depth they already thought they had on the defensive line and quickly lived to regret it considering how elite Donald has become in Los Angeles. Ebron has been a journeyman while Donald has become a six-time All-Pro defender, a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year winner.

Detroit’s new general manager Brad Holmes had a hand in picking Donald, so he knows just how good the defender is. It’s a bit surprising he would ask for him in a trade, but Lions fans should be happy that due diligence was at least completed in this case given how they have longed for Donald to be on their line for years and years.

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Lions Managed to Score With Matthew Stafford Trade

Fans and media members can say all they want about the trade’s merits either way, but any time a team can cash in with a couple of first-round picks no matter where they’re located, it’s a solid move. Adding Jared Goff adds a level of intrigue to the deal considering he could still have plenty of good years left and the Lions might view him as part of the solution in Detroit. Adding a third-round pick this season helps the Lions right now, and adds to their firepower early in the draft to find players who can help immediately.

Having an extra first-round pick this year would have helped, but the Lions did right by Stafford, who reportedly wanted to go to the Rams. To this end, everyone is likely happy with the deal on both sides, and that’s all that matters.

That’s true even if Donald isn’t coming to Detroit.

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