Several NFL teams have decisions to make this offseason when it comes to veteran quarterbacks who may or may not be retained. According to some of the 33rd Team’s coaches and front-office personnel, the Detroit Lions have an easy decision when it comes to Matthew Stafford.
The Lions are coming off a 5-11 season. They have the seventh overall pick in the draft and will have a new head coach and general manager in place. Stafford just completed his 12th season and he turns 33 years old next month. The new Lions coach and GM will surely need to evaluate Stafford and consider their plans going into next season.
Based on his play in 2019, despite the Lions’ record, there’s good reason to keep Stafford in the fold.
“He might be 32 but he plays young,” said former Chicago Bears head coach and quarterback guru Marc Trestman. “I think he’s still a first-round talent.“
Trestman was particularly impressed that Stafford was often at his best this season against NFC North rivals. His completion percentage and QB Rating were better in his six games against division opponents than they were in Detroit’s other 10 games.
“He’s extremely accurate,” said Trestman. “His pocket presence is always at an elite level, in my opinion.”
Trestman said he believes Stafford still has a few years left at this level.
When it comes to older quarterbacks, of course, salary does play into a team’s decision-making. It was only a few years ago that Stafford had the richest contract in the league, but the numbers are no longer that daunting.
Stafford is due $19.5 million in 2021, with a $33 million cap hit. He is due $23 million in 2022 with a $26 million cap hit. Compared to some of the megadeals that have been signed since Stafford’s last contract, he’s a relative bargain.
“This is a great quarterback to keep,” said the 33rd Team’s Mike Tannenbaum. “He’s really reasonable from a price standpoint.”
Tannenbaum preached the idea of playing for today while planning for tomorrow, suggesting that it’s okay to move forward with Stafford and still think about drafting a QB for the future. The Packers took that approach this year when they drafted Jordan Love in the first round. The move caused some controversy, but it’s worked out okay for Aaron Rodgers.
Whether or not Detroit drafts a quarterback in 2021, the 33rd Team’s consensus is that Stafford should remain the Lions’ starter.
“I don’t know why I wouldn’t keep him,” said Tannenbaum.