Lions aren’t trading Matthew Stafford even if they draft a quarterback

The Lions may spend a second round pick on a quarterback, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as a signal that they’re ready to trade Matthew Stafford. 

In a vacuum, it might make sense for the Lions to trade veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford in an effort to kickstart their rebuild. In practice, it’s not a realistic option for Detroit’s front office.

That’s why no one should raise an eyebrow if the Lions elect to spend a second round pick on a quarterback. Bringing a guy like Jalen Hurts or Jacob Eason into the quarterback room would be an example of proper future roster planning by the organization. It should not be construed as a sign that Stafford is suddenly on the trading block.

The Lions do have an ability to get out of Stafford’s contract after the 2020 season, but it would cost the franchise $19 million in dead cap space. That’s too much money for an organization to swallow that’s legitimately trying to win now.

Trading him would only cause the team to eat money the moment the transaction is made. That’s why the Lions are much more likely to hold on to Stafford while they have any chance of being competitive in the NFC North.

That doesn’t mean they should trust Chase Daniel to be Stafford’s backup moving forward. The team’s performance fell off a cliff when Stafford went down with an injury last season. Daniel might be a reasonable stop-gap to employ for a game or two, but he’s not capable of being an NFL starter for any meaningful stretch of games.

Drafting either Hurts or Eason would give Detroit’s offense a fighting chance to stay afloat in Stafford’s absence. That’s particularly important for the team’s head coach Matt Patricia. He’s entering the last year of his contract with the franchise. Team ownership isn’t going to be inclined to give him any sort of break if his 2020 season is ruined due to another injury at quarterback.

His only realistic chance of survival in Stafford’s absence would be to show that he’s grooming a future quarterback that can grow into a star. Daniel doesn’t qualify. A relatively highly-rated rookie could go out onto the field and show enough flashes of brilliance to earn Patricia a tenuous extension.

Next: Round 2 picks that can blossom into stars

No matter what, Lions fans shouldn’t freak out if they draft a quarterback in this year’s draft. Stafford isn’t going anywhere until all hope is lost for Detroit in 2020.

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