The Detroit Lions have a new regime and with that, have agreed to part ways with franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford. There will be a market for the former first overall pick. Here are five potential landing spots for Matthew Stafford.
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are one of the teams in need of a quarterback this offseason. Philip Rivers retired and Jacoby Brissett is a free agent. They likely won’t pick high enough to draft one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Because they have a roster that is ready to compete, albeit with a few holes that need to be fixed, they need to make a play for one of the quarterbacks on the market this offseason.
Stafford could help the Colts take the next step forward as competitors. He would have a few things he never had in Detroit: a good defense and running game. With Indianapolis, Stafford could be more efficient. Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard has managed the cap so well, they have the cap space to acquire Stafford and still improve the team this offseason.
2. New England Patriots
New England signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal. While Bill Belichick has said that Newton’s play wasn’t the reason the team didn’t make the playoffs, they will probably move on from Newton. The other quarterbacks on the roster, Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, haven’t shown they can be great starting quarterbacks. Acquiring Stafford could help the Patriots compete once again.
While Stafford isn’t the same type of quarterback Tom Brady was, Belichick could make it work. With some of their defense back after opting out last season and some of their wide receivers returning from injury, the team could take a giant step forward with Stafford under center. The Patriots have the fourth most cap space in the league for next season and could make it work monetarily.
3. Washington Football Team
Washington had a roller coaster ride of a season. Ron Rivera was hired as head coach and led the team to the playoffs behind a great effort from their defense. Even though the defense was good, they didn’t have a good signal-caller. Dwayne Haskins started the year as the starter and has now been cut. Alex Smith and Kyle Allen played decently, but aren’t franchise quarterbacks. Stafford would fill a huge void for Washington.
With Washington, Stafford would have a young running back who is talented at catching passes out of the backfield in Antonio Gibson. He would also have a star young receiver in Terry McLaurin. The defense would be better than what he had in Detroit. Washington would become competitors with Stafford. They also have enough cap space to afford Stafford if they don’t want to draft a quarterback in the first round or don’t think one will be available to them.
4. Carolina Panthers
Carolina played tough for the first part of the 2020 season, but faded down the stretch. They had a new head coach, quarterback and a very young defense. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t play terribly, but he also isn’t the long-term answer to help this team compete. If they want an upgrade at the position, Stafford would be just that.
Stafford would have a lot of weapons to utilize on the Panthers. Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel could all take huge steps forward with Stafford as their quarterback. The defense will also likely take a step forward. The Panthers are within range to take one of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft, but if they want a quarterback who can help them win now, they can afford to go after Stafford.
5. Denver Broncos
Denver has had Drew Lock start a lot of their games over the last two seasons. While he hasn’t performed poorly, he also hasn’t cemented himself as the starting quarterback of the future. If the Broncos have aspirations of winning next season, Stafford would give them a much better chance than Lock, who is still developing.
The Broncos have done a great job of adding talent through the draft over the last few seasons. They have Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and Noah Fant, who are all capable pass-catchers. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are both capable running backs. The defense should be much improved with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb healthy. The team may just be a quarterback and a few upgrades away from being very competitive. Even though John Elway isn’t making the decisions anymore, he loves strong-armed quarterbacks and could push for him to be the team’s next quarterback, given that they could find a way to afford him.
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