Analyst Proposes Lions Deal Matthew Stafford for Young Quarterback

Sam Darnold

Getty Sam Darnold entering the field before a Jets game.

The Detroit Lions are set to begin to accept ideas on the future of Matthew Stafford on plenty of fronts, and while most trade proposals are likely to involve a swap of picks, how about including a young quarterback into the mix?

Few teams that could be interested in Stafford could have that kind of draft capital to throw around, but there is an interesting one that sits near the top of the 2021 NFL Draft in the New York Jets. If the Jets think they are close to contention, they might decide on nabbing Stafford and beginning their own turnaround.

Should that be the case, New York has something interesting to offer the Lions in the form of Sam Darnold. That’s according to Bleacher Report columnist Gary Davenport, who recently broke down some ideal trades and landing spots for Stafford.

Davenport’s list of teams had all the usual names that have been bantered about early in the process, but an interesting addition in the form of the Jets, whom he says should dangle not only draft picks, but Darnold to try and get Detroit’s attention for a deal. As he hints, that could prove to be an advantage in talks.

He wrote:

“But the Jets have something to offer that other suitors wouldn’t: a former top-five pick who is still on his rookie contract in quarterback Sam Darnold.

Yes, this assumes new head coach Robert Saleh and the Jets are ready to move on from Darnold. But if that’s the case, a trade for Stafford lets the new regime have its proverbial cake and eat it too.

Not only do the Jets get their most proven quarterback in recent memory (who will still be just 33 years old when the 2021 season starts despite a dozen years in the NFL under his belt), but New York would also still have that second overall pick in this year’s draft to use at another position—or trade to get back the compensation lost in acquiring said veteran signal-caller.

If Douglas and Saleh are sold, this year’s No. 2 and the Jets’ first pick in 2022 would rocket them up the list.

The Lions, on the other hand, get the second pick on Day 2 this year, a Day 2 pick next year and a young passer who might benefit greatly from a change of scenery.”

The Jets have maintained they may want to keep Darnold because they believe in him, but if that isn’t the case and he is on the block, the Lions should give it a hard look. Darnold would still have time to develop, and the Lions would also add a draft pick to help them out with the rebuild in order to find more players.

It’s tough to say the Lions would consider this route themselves, but they should turn over every stone as it relates to replacing Stafford, which even Barry Sanders knows will be tough to do.

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Analyzing Lions Trade Demands for Matthew Stafford

So what is the cost for Stafford going to be, and would the Lions like to get a chance at a young quarterback in a deal? That’s possible, but the lack of attractive options on the market could hurt this possibility. Darnold or perhaps Jimmy Garoppolo or Deshaun Watson are the only players who could be on the move who fit such a description. The team knows they have to trade Stafford and it’s no question the move will likely happen. Even such, that shouldn’t dampen the market or lower the asking price. At 32, Stafford is right in the middle of his NFL prime and should fetch a huge return for the Lions, who could use the assortment of picks to help bolster their roster in other spots and build a more complete team. The Lions could use some extra picks not just this year but in 2022 as well.

With the number of teams expected to have interest, the Lions can afford to be choosy and drive a hard bargain on Stafford with any team who calls on him across the league. A first-round pick and other picks from 2021 should be the lowest the team considers going at this point, and if a young quarterback is indeed in play, the Lions need to think about that move as well.

Sam Darnold Stats

Since joining the Jets as their top pick two years ago in 2018, Darnold hasn’t had a ton of help which has provided some average numbers to start his career. He’s thrown for 6,934 yards, 39 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. The Jets would make a move with Darnold if they could be assured of having a ready-made solution, which is what Stafford would provide for them in this scenario.

Darnold himself has been cited as a player who has all the tools to be successful in the NFL, and has certainly shown flashes of brilliance in the past. He was a former first-team All-PAC-12 passer in college, and has enough talent that he might be able to put things together somewhere else if given a new chance.

At 23, Darnold’s story is just beginning and it would be interesting to see him in a new place with new teammates given a new chance to flourish. Could Detroit be that place? Stay tuned.

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