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Why trading Matthew Stafford would be a huge mistake for Lions

The Detroit Lions picked quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Since then, he has been their franchise quarterback.

In that time, Matthew Stafford has had some truly wonderful seasons. However, that has not translated to all that much success for the Lions. They have won zero playoff games under Stafford (although that’s a trend that started well before Stafford got there).

Meanwhile, the quarterback appeared in just eight games last season following a pretty serious back injury.

The Lions went 3-12-1 on the season. They were 3-4-1 with Matthew Stafford, but dropped all eight games without him.

Due to the terrible season, it might be the perfect time for a rebuild. And that has led to speculation that they could be attempting to move on from Stafford.

That’s a serious mistake though, here’s why.

This isn’t an article pretending like everything has been amazing during Stafford’s tenure with the Lions. As already mentioned, they have yet to win a playoff game in 11 seasons with the quarterback.

That’s really bad.

That being said, let’s not pretend like plugging in a new quarterback is going to do the trick.

Presumably, the Lions would be trading Matthew Stafford because they drafted a new quarterback (let’s say Tua Tagovailoa).

Why would anyone assume Tagovailoa would do much better with limited weapons? It’s not like Stafford is struggling to put up numbers with an all-star cast. In fact, it’s the contrary.

Matthew Stafford has consistently had no running game for basically his entire career. He’s had limited help at receiver (not counting Calvin Johnson) as well.

Yes, they’ve had some very good players. Outside of Johnson though, no one touching elite.

As shown by the record, it’s hard to blame Detroit’s struggles on Matthew Stafford. In fact, that 3-4-1 mark had them still very much in the playoff hunt. And Stafford was playing like a legitimate MVP candidate. He had a 64.3 competition percentage for 2,499 passing yards, to go along with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Give those numbers a full 16 games and Matthew Stafford would have hit 4,998 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 picks. The yards would have been the second most in the NFL (behind Jameis Winston) and the touchdowns would have topped the league.

Perhaps most importantly though, the cap.

The Lions simply won’t do it. That’s just ridiculous. It would almost be better to just keep him on the roster and not take that hit than trade him for a pick.

The cap space they would lose would make it that much harder for Detroit to compete. Yes, they could take the time to rebuild, but with all that money tied up you aren’t going to get any help for your new quarterback, which means he probably won’t even get valuable experience in year one, unless you want to feed him to the wolves.

Matthew Stafford is a franchise quarterback. This Detroit franchise just hasn’t shown that much willingness to build around him.

Using the fourth pick on Jeff Okudah would give them a star cornerback. That would help build up the defense. Then add some more help offensively, and you might have something.

Stafford’s still just 32. That injury last season caused him to miss games for the first time since 2010, so health shouldn’t be a huge concern either.

There’s still plenty of time to build a winner in Detroit with him at quarterback. Moving on from that now would be a huge mistake.