SI All Lions Roundtable: Stafford Era Ends in Detroit

The latest SI All Lions Roundtable focuses on Matthew Stafford's tenure in Detroit coming to an end
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1.) What is your reaction to the Matthew Stafford trade? 

Vito Chirco: I'm a fan of it. Getting two first-rounders in the deal (a first-rounder in both 2022 and 2023) plus a third-rounder this year is huge. And, by acquiring Jared Goff as part of the return for Stafford, the Lions don't necessarily have to take a quarterback in the first round of this year's NFL Draft. They could now address the defensive side of the ball -- a more pressing need at this juncture -- and wait to select a quarterback until the second or third round, or they could even wait until next year to take their long-term successor to Stafford.   

It's sad to see No. 9 go, but trading him became a necessity. And, on the surface, this blockbuster trade sets Detroit up well for the future. 

Logan Lamorandier: This is the type of trade a rebuilding franchise needs to make happen. Only a third-round pick in 2021, but two more firsts in the upcoming years -- albeit probably later ones -- is a great boost to the future. Also, adding Goff into the equation added to the Lions' return. More on that in the next question. 

2.) Was it worth taking on Jared Goff's contract? 

Chirco: Because Detroit was able to land two-first rounders as a result of taking on Goff's contract, I think the answer is yes. 

Goff's cap number is set to be $27.8 million this season, and the four-year, $134 million contract that he signed in 2019 doesn't officially expire until the conclusion of the 2024 season. 

However, the Lions can get out of it after the 2022 campaign concludes. So, Brad Holmes & Co. are basically on the books for two guaranteed years of Goff in the Motor City. 

That isn't so bad for a 26-year-old who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft and has made two trips to the Pro Bowl since then (2017 and 2018). 

Lamorandier: Goff's contract is a hefty one. However, the Lions don't have to pay his yearly $6.8 million prorated signing bonus. There are guarantees in his salary through 2022, but it won't completely preclude the Lions from parting ways after this season -- if they wanted. 

Considering where the Lions are at in a rebuild, taking on some salary for more in return is fine by me. Plus, they get a young bridge QB who has at least shown some signs of potential. If anyone knows Goff's strengths and weaknesses, it's Lions general manager Brad Holmes. 

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3.) Which head coach hired in 2021 will have the most success? 

Chirco: I believe it's going to be Dearborn, Mich., native and new N.Y. Jets head man Robert Saleh. 

The fiery former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator is the polar opposite of ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase, who brought no emotion or energy to the sidelines. 

Saleh will bring a ton of both. And, if his time in San Francisco is any sort of indication of things to come, Saleh's players will strongly reflect the passion that he coaches with. 

All positives for the 42-year-old -- whose birthday is today -- as he heads into his first ever NFL head coaching gig. 

Another thing working in Saleh's favor is that he managed to hire Mike LaFleur, the brother of Green Bay Packers head man Matt LaFleur, away from Kyle Shanahan's staff with the 49ers. 

Mike LaFleur, who spent the past three seasons as San Francisco's passing-game coordinator, will serve as the offensive play-caller for Saleh. 

Lamorandier: Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers. Full disclosure, it's not all to do with Staley alone. 

The Chargers have a bunch of defensive talent when healthy, and Staley proved in one year as a defensive coordinator that he has a great football mind. Looking at the offense and QB Justin Herbert, that side of the ball is up-and-coming, and their defense should be no different. Now, he is in a tough division, but I could see plenty of early success. 

4.) Do the Lions even have to draft a quarterback in 2021? 

Chirco: After acquiring Goff, the answer is absolutely not. He gives them a stopgap option at the position for at least a season, and he could be the Lions' starting QB in 2022, as well. 

If Ohio State's Justin Fields or BYU's Zach Wilson is still on the board with the Lions' first-round pick at No. 7 overall and Holmes and Detroit's front office believe that either of them could be the team's long-term answer under center, then Holmes & Co. should go ahead and pick a QB. 

However, if they're on the fence regarding the validity of Fields and Wilson being franchise passers one day -- even just a little bit -- I say address the defense at No. 7 and go with players at bigger positions of need throughout the rest of the draft, too (i.e. wide receiver and the right side of the offensive line). 

Lamorandier: No. The Lions are in the infancy stages of retooling the roster, and one of the best perks of a drafted QB is their rookie deal. I'm all for creating the biggest window possible, and this year would waste a season of that cheap rookie contract. 

Having Goff on the roster as well as Stafford's dead cap in 2021, there is still a bunch of money invested in the position. Much like the Rams and Goff, there are plenty of other examples of talented or rising teams inserting a young, cheap quarterback and getting to the Super Bowl. I want the Lions to have a more complete team, before adding their quarterback of the future. 

Now, if there is a can't-miss quarterback sitting at No. 7 this year, I'm fine taking him. But, the Lions will likely have another high pick next season. I'm not as concerned with next year's QB class not looking as strong. Every year, there are risers -- such as Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow and Zach Wilson. 

5.) Which assistant coach hired by Detroit excites you the most? 

Chirco: Easily defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant. The Flint, Mich., native is the only assistant coach hire that I gave an "A+" to, and I don't think it came without merit. 

Pleasant, who most recently spent the past four seasons with the Rams as their DBs coach, played an integral role in Los Angeles cornerback Jalen Ramsey becoming an All-Pro selection for the second time in his career -- just ask Ramsey.

And, now he'll be tasked with developing Detroit cornerback Jeff Okudah, after a rough first season for the Lions' No. 3 overall selection in the 2020 draft. 

I can't say anything negative about this hire, and think that Pleasant was the best assistant added to first-year head man Dan Campbell's staff. 

Lamorandier: Defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant. I may be biased because he is from Michigan. But, even Jalen Ramsey of the Rams felt as if Pleasant deserved a shot to fill their defensive coordinator vacancy. Plenty of players back their position coaches, so it might not be saying all that much. But, it's still worth something. 

The Rams' pass defense was one of the best in the NFL last season, and the Lions need plenty of help there. Pleasant seems like a great candidate to help out the younger guys in Detroit's secondary.

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