Matthew Stafford’s future with the Detroit Lions is in serious jeopardy as they close in on yet another disappointing campaign. Per Mike Florio of NBC Sports, the Lions will need to make their decision quickly on whether they will keep their 2009 no. 1 overall pick as part of their future moving forward.
On the fifth day of the 2021 league year, which tentatively begins on March 21, Stafford will earn a $10 million roster bonus. So if the Lions are going to trade or cut Stafford, $10 million hinges on the decision coming before then.
Detroit hit the reset button after firing head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. Obviously, finding a replacement for those two will be their no. 1 priority this off-season. After they settle that concern, whoever becomes the GM will immediately have a tough decision on his hands-on whether to keep the 32-year old quarterback on the roster next season.
Apart from moving on from their quarterback of 12 years, this decision will have plenty of salary cap implications for Detroit as well. Stafford could make up to $20-million next season for the Lions should he stay put beyond their deadline.
There are several ways that Detroit could go about Stafford, whether by trading him, cutting him, or keeping him. Regardless of what they do, however, they would still encounter salary cap issues. Mike Florio details out the different scenarios that would have their own salary cap consequences:
Trading Stafford would avoid the $20 million in cash and cap obligation for 2021, but it would trigger a $24.85 million cap charge for 2021. Cutting him with a post-June 1 designation eventually would spread the consequences over two years, with $14.95 million landing in 2021 and the remaining $9.9 million hitting in 2022.
Keeping Stafford without any type of restructuring or extension will mean a $34.95 million cap charge for Stafford in 2020.
The Lions are going to miss the postseason for the fourth year in a row. Stafford, in his 12 years in the Motor City, has only made the playoffs three times. With their lack of success together, it might be best for both parties to go their separate ways.