Matthew Stafford has known nothing but Honolulu Blue through his 12 years in the NFL. But, could he be on the way out of Motown at season's end?
If Lions head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn are dismissed at the conclusion of the year, the likelihood of Stafford and the organization parting ways only increases, in my opinion.
And a trade would be needed to make it happen, as Stafford is under contract until 2023.
Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi, who presently writes for The Athletic and co-hosts "The GM Shuffle" podcast with Adnan Virk, believes a trade could end up materializing.
As he said in an interview before the season, "Maybe Matthew Stafford might want to go somewhere else and play. That's the tone and feel I've heard through the NFL. Not from Matthew directly. But there has been that sense that he would like out."
If Stafford is dealt this offseason, here are the four most likely trade destinations for him (in no particular order).
San Francisco 49ers
Have you guys seen Jimmy Garoppolo play lately?
He was benched at halftime on Sunday against the Dolphins, after going only 7-of-17 for 77 yards and two interceptions, good for a passer rating of just 15.7 -- seriously.
He no longer looks like the 49ers' long-term answer at quarterback, and Stafford, even though he's three years older than "Jimmy G" and will be 33 come next season, would be a clear-cut upgrade.
Sad but true, it's time for Philip Rivers, one of the best quarterbacks of his generation, to hang it up.
Since last year, when he was still a member of the L.A. Chargers, he's been a turnover machine.
In fact, the 38-year-old has thrown 23 interceptions and just 20 touchdowns since Week 5 of last year, which encompasses 17 games (12 with the Chargers and five with the Colts).
His numbers through five games this year include only four touchdown passes and five interceptions.
He's playing on a one-year deal, so the 2020 campaign could feasibly be his last in the NFL.
Regardless of whether or not it's his final season, if he keeps playing the way that he has through the first quarter of the season, Indianapolis will likely be looking for a new starting QB for next year.
At that point, with Rivers off the books, it would have enough money to absorb the contract of Stafford in a trade.
It makes the Colts one of the top suitors for his services going into the offseason.
Le'Veon Bell's already gone, and head coach Adam Gase could and should be next.
Does it mean the Jets are in store for a major roster shakeup going into 2021?
If so, there's at least a remote possibility that the franchise moves on from third-year passer and 2018 No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold.
Even though the USC product is only 23 years old, you can easily make the argument that he'd benefit from a change of scenery already, because of how poorly Gase & Co. have mismanaged him.
If Darnold and the Jets do part ways, maybe the organization will want to make a splash and pair its new head coach with a big-name quarterback that also could seemingly benefit from a change of scenery.
It might be just the right move to reinvigorate his career and get him going on the right track once again.
And no matter if you think it'd be a good fit for Stafford at this juncture in his career, I'm willing to put some good money on the Jets being interested in acquiring him if they were to move on from Darnold.
This is all predicated upon how the Jaguars' present starting quarterback Gardner Minshew II plays the remainder of the season.
If he maintains his passer rating of 99.4 or even elevates it a bit, there won't be a very high likelihood that Jacksonville considers trading for Stafford.
However, if the highly popular Minshew goes into a tailspin, all bets are off, and the Jags could very well set their eyes on Detroit's longtime franchise passer.
At this point, Jacksonville appears to be a fringe suitor for the veteran QB.
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