The Stafford Mega Deal And How It Might (Or Not) Impact the Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins watched the Detroit Lions trade quarterback Matthew Stafford in the first major NFL move of the offseason
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The 2021 offseason could end up being like no other in terms of quarterback movement around the NFL, and things have gotten started in a big way with the mega trade involving Matthew Stafford.

The Miami Dolphins have been discussed as one of the teams that could be involved in that QB carousel, and they just might have been impacted by the trade that multiple reports indicate will send Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for quarterback Jared Goff, a 2021 third-round pick and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.

The knee-jerk reaction is to suggest that trade impacts the Dolphins negatively in multiple ways, though it might not necessarily be the case.

The first implication is that Stafford getting that kind of return for the Lions suggests the Houston Texans will get an insane return for quarterback Deshaun Watson should they eventually decide they have no choice but to trade him.

To that end, it's worth noting that Watson removed all references of him being Houston Texans quarterback on his social media accounts.

Why Watson should fetch more in return than Stafford is logical because Watson is better than Stafford and he's also 25, as opposed to 33.

But here's what cannot be overlooked, even though it seems to be in so many quick Twitter reactions and analyses: Part of the cost the Rams paid involved the Lions taking on Goff's onerous contract.

In fact, in the days leading up to the trade, the speculation with the Rams was that they were looking to upgrade at quarterback but had to figure out what to do about Goff and his contract, which has four years remaining.

It's probably not outrageous to suggest the Rams threw the Lions a second first-round pick to take Goff and his contract, much the same way the Houston Texans gave the Cleveland Browns a second-round pick to quarterback Brock Osweiler and his contract back in 2017, a year before Osweiler joined the Dolphins.

So maybe it's more realistic to look at the trade as Stafford for first- and third-round picks. Yes, Watson will produce a bigger return than that, but is it going to be vastly different than what was suggested all along, that basically three first-round picks was the starting point?

So this Stafford trade, which won't become official until March 17, does not — contrary to what some might suggest — drastically increase Watson's value.

That's something to keep in mind if the Dolphins decide to pursue a trade for the three-time Pro Bowl selection.

The other part of the equation is where that leaves the Lions at the quarterback position.

Once it was revealed that Stafford wanted to move on, the Lions became a potential trading partner for the Dolphins and the third overall pick because they would be in need of a new franchise quarterback.

But where do things stand after the acquisition of Goff?

Are the Lions really going to take a quarterback early in the 2021 NFL draft with Goff (and his big contract) on the roster?

The quick reaction would be to say "no way," though we probably shouldn't dismiss the possibility entirely.

After all, didn't the Packers just trade up in the first round — with the Dolphins — to take Jordan Love while they had Aaron Rodgers on the roster.

Goff's contract also is structured in such a way that, according to spotrac.com, the Lions could move on after the 2022 season. And now the Lions also have extra draft capital with which to maneuver if they decide their best move is to get one of the top non-Lawrence QB prospects this year — Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or maybe Trey Lance.

Given the nature of the position and the draft, quarterbacks often go earlier than they should, so the Lions might not want to take the chance to miss out if they decide this year is the time to make their move for a young passer to set themselves up for the future.

The big question here is how the Lions view Goff, who has regressed the past two seasons after making the Pro Bowl twice and helped the Rams reach the Super Bowl in 2018 when his offseason was shut down by the Brian Flores-coached New England defense.

The best guess at this time is that the Lions acquiring Goff makes them a lot more unlikely to want to trade up to the third overall pick, though it's still  not impossible that happens.

Even without the Lions in the picture, the Dolphins still could have potential trade partners for that third pick, whether it be QB-needy teams like San Francisco, Washington or Carolina or maybe a team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who absolutely need to build up their offensive line to better protect Joe Burrow.