Salary Cap Ramifications for Trading Matthew Stafford

The Detroit Lions will take a hefty dead-money hit to trade Matthew Stafford.

When the final whistle blew in the Detroit Lions' 37-35 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17, thoughts turned immediately to the future. 

It turns out that Matthew Stafford could have played his final game at Ford Field in a Lions uniform. 

Following the conclusion of Detroit's disappointing 5-11 season, Stafford met with Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood. 

After Stafford spoke to new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell, an agreement was reached for Detroit to pursue trading the veteran franchise passer. 

If the Lions are successfully able to find a trade partner or release Stafford, they will take a $19 million dead-money cap hit. But, it would free up $14 million in cap space, since Stafford's salary cap number was set at $33 million for 2021. 

According to The Athletic, "Stafford, 32, still has two years remaining on his contract. And while the Lions will have to eat $19 million in dead money if and when they move him, Stafford’s new team would be on the hook for a perfectly reasonable $20 million in 2021 ($9.5 million in base salary plus bonuses) and $23 million ($12.5 million base) in ’22."

Multiple teams could inquire about trading for Stafford, including the 49ers, Colts, Patriots, Steelers, Saints and the Washington Football Team. 

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