Amidst a coaching and front office upheaval in Detroit, one key player’s future with the organization appears unsettled as well. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), Matthew Stafford‘s future with the Lions is “very much in doubt” beyond the 2015 season, as Rapoport understands it. GM Martin Mayhew said last week that the idea of the Lions jettisoning Stafford in the offseason was “comical,” but Mayhew is no longer in charge of that decision, having been fired today.
Stafford, 27, is completing passes at a career-high 64.5% rate, but he has already nearly matched last year’s interception total in just a half-season, and his yards per completion average is the lowest it has been since 2010. With the Lions having sputtered to a 1-7 record following last year’s postseason berth, Stafford is among the players who will shoulder the share of the blame for the team’s poor season, particularly if he doesn’t turn things around under new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.
While Stafford has shown in the past that he’s capable of posting huge numbers – most notably throwing for more than 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2011 – the Lions’ new management group may want to make a change at the position, and Stafford would be a valuable trade chip to accumulate draft picks for a retooling process.
While Stafford is under contract through the 2017 season, his deal doesn’t feature any more guaranteed money after this year. If a team were to acquire him in a trade, that club would take on base salaries (and cap hits) of $17MM in 2016 and $16.5MM in 2017. A quarterback with a résumé like Stafford’s, along with a palatable contract that has more than one year left on it, could fetch multiple high draft picks in a deal.
Of course, depending on how the rest of the season plays out, and depending on who takes over for Martin Mayhew as the Lions’ new GM, the team may ultimately decide it makes more sense to hang onto its starting quarterback. This looks like a situation worth monitoring as the offseason approaches, however.