After last night’s blockbuster trade, we know where former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will play football next season. And thanks to a tweet from NBC Sports Boston reporter, we also know where Stafford absolutely would not have played football next season under any circumstances.
Stafford says no to Foxboro
As we all know now, Matthew Stafford eventually ended up with the Los Angeles Rams, who gave up quite a bit to receive him. In return for Stafford, the Rams surrendered their own franchise quarterback, Jared Goff, along with their third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.
The Rams were not Stafford’s only suitor, however. At one point, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, at least seven teams were in the mix. These included the Washington Football Team, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, and New England Patriots.
The last of those teams was a no-no. According to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston, Stafford made it explicitly clear that he would not accept a trade to the Patriots.
Why not New England?
For now, we can only speculate as to why Stafford ruled out a trade to New England. Stafford himself has not spoken on the matter.
Some experts, such as The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi (a former Patriots executive himself) pegged New England as a front-runner in the Stafford sweepstakes. However, as Curran noted, that may never have been a realistic possibility.
For one, unless Bill Belichick pulls a rabbit out of his hat next season, the Patriots are in full-on rebuilding mode. Last year, their wide receiver corps was nothing to write home about. Their leading pass-catcher, N’Keal Harry, caught 59 passes, and no one else exceeded 50. As hard as it seems to believe as I type this, going from Detroit to New England would not be much of an offensive upgrade — if any — from Stafford’s point of view.
It doesn’t help that the Patriots now have former Lions head coach Matt Patricia on their coaching staff. The Matt Patricia era in Detroit was a debacle that Stafford probably does not want to relive. In his three seasons in charge, the Lions finished a miserable 13-29-1, and his coaching style reportedly caused friction with multiple players – including Stafford.
What next for the Patriots?
This news could not have come at a worse time for the Patriots, as there is still uncertainty over who will be their starting quarterback in 2021. Last season, the Cam Newton experiment did not work out, with the team missing the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Earlier this month, Newton said he wanted to leave the team “immediately”.
The Patriots have other avenues to acquire a quarterback. There is still a slim chance they can acquire the top prize of the offseason, Deshaun Watson. The disgruntled Texans star has already indicated that he would prefer a trade to one of the Patriots’ division rivals, the New York Jets or the Miami Dolphins. Another option would be Tom Brady’s former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, now with the San Francisco 49ers.
Whatever happens next, this is shaping up to be an offseason of “quarterback musical chairs”. The Patriots should move quickly to not be the only one left standing when the music stops.