Matthew Stafford

Injury Roundup: Hilton, Lions, Bolts, Rams

It’s looking like the Colts‘ passing attack will have to operate without its top weapon Sunday. T.Y. Hilton drew a doubtful designation on Indianapolis’ Friday injury report. He did not practice all week. The eighth-year wideout left the Colts’ Week 3 win with a quadriceps injury, and although the Raiders enter Week 4 ranked 30th in pass defense DVOA, the Colts went 0-2 without Hilton last season. They are already down previous starter Devin Funchess, who sits on IR. The Colts also ruled Darius Leonard out for a second straight week. The All-Pro linebacker remains in concussion protocol.

Here is the latest from the Week 4 injury front:

  • Matthew Stafford popped up on the Lions‘ injury report Friday; he’s listed as questionable with a hip malady. While Stafford should be expected to play, given that he’s played through injuries in recent years and holds the league’s third-longest active start streak among QBs with 131, this is a less-than-ideal scenario going into a key inter-conference matchup with the Chiefs. Rookie UDFA David Blough has been Stafford’s backup this season, though Jeff Driskel is now on Detroit’s 53-man roster.
  • That matchup will not include Chiefs starting running back Damien Williams, who will miss a second straight game with a knee ailment. LeSean McCoy put together two full practices this week and will likely team up with Darrel Williams, as he did last week, in Detroit.
  • Good news for the Rams‘ offense. Sean McVay said both Austin Blythe and Tyler Higbee will be available against the Buccaneers on Sunday, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Blythe missed Los Angeles’ Week 3 game with a sprained ankle, while Higbee has been sidelined with a lung contusion.
  • Another Chargers game will unfold without their primary kicker option. The Bolts ruled out Michael Badgley for a fourth straight contest. Punter Ty Long‘s multipurpose afternoons will continue. Long made both of his field goal tries last week after missing two in Week 2.
  • Additionally for the Bolts, they will be without Mike Williams. He’s been declared out with a back injury. Travis Benjamin will head to Miami as doubtful to play, meaning Dontrelle Inman and Geremy Davis stand as the Chargers’ only two healthy auxiliary wideouts. This marks Williams’ second injury of the season. A knee problem plagued the third-year target earlier this month but did not force him to miss any time.
  • The Vikings‘ No. 2-ranked rushing attack will be tested in Chicago this week, and right guard starter Josh Kline will not play a part in the NFC North contest. The free agent acquisition will miss Sunday’s game with a concussion that kept him out of practice this week. This will end Kline’s 49-start streak. Veteran Dakota Dozier will start, per Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Dozier has started eight games in his six-season career, which included a Week 2 start in place of Pat Elflein.

Dolphins Tried To Acquire Matthew Stafford

The Dolphins tried to trade for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford before the start of the 2018 season, multiple league sources tell Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. The talks did not progress to the point where the Dolphins were asked about what they’d give up, but it’s an indication that the Dolphins were thinking about moving on from Ryan Tannehill earlier than anyone thought. 

Former head coach Adam Gase, Salguero hears, reached out personally to Lions coach Matt Patricia to orchestrate a deal. The belief is that Gase would have offered at minimum Miami’s 2018 first-round pick and probably more. Patricia, however, said he was unwilling to move on from Stafford.

Leading up to the 2018 season, Tannehill missed 20 straight games with a knee injury. But, until word of the Stafford discussions, it was believed that the Dolphins were only looking at QB options in the draft. Ultimately, the Dolphins did not move on a QB class that included Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Josh Allen. Instead, they stood pat at No. 11 overall and selected defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The Fins did not land Stafford, obviously, but they’ve overhauled the QB room nonetheless. Tannehill was shipped to the Titans earlier this month and Ryan Fitzpatrick is now set to start under center in South Beach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Willing To Draft QB In First Round?

Matthew Stafford was not particularly good in 2018, as he threw for fewer than 4,000 yards for the first time since an injury-shortened 2010 campaign, and he tossed just 21 TDs against 11 interceptions. His pedestrian numbers, when coupled with the Lions’ disappointing 2018 season, have led to plenty of speculation that Detroit could be looking for a new QB sooner rather than later.

As we detailed in late December, Stafford’s contract situation makes cutting or trading him this offseason a dubious proposition at best. But he did just turn 31, and while he has put together some nice statistical seasons, he has not guided his team to a single playoff win in his 10 seasons under center. The blame for the Lions’ playoff shortcomings by no means falls squarely on Stafford’s shoulders, but as a quarterback with a $135MM contract to his name, he is subject to some scrutiny.

The odds are that the Lions will retain Stafford for at least one more season, especially now that they have a new offensive coordinator in Darrell Bevell. But GM Bob Quinn said yesterday that he is open to drafting a quarterback with the No. 8 overall selection in this year’s draft, even if Stafford will almost certainly be on the roster at that point (via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com).

Quinn said, “We’ll consider any position in the draft at any point in time, whether it’s the eighth overall pick or we have multiple picks later in the draft. We’re in a position now with the eighth overall pick that the whole draft board is really wide open to us. We’re not going to really eliminate any prospects.”

Of course, no general manager is going to explicitly rule out a position or player in advance of the draft and needlessly give away a competitive advantage, no matter how slight. On the other hand, it is interesting that Quinn’s statement comes just a few weeks after Quinn said Stafford was, and would continue to be, the Lions’ quarterback.

Although this year’s class of rookie QBs is considered to be weak relative to the 2018 group, it did get an injection of intriguing talent yesterday, when Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray announced his intention to pursue an NFL career. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins is viewed as 2019’s other top collegiate signal-caller, and either player could be available when the Lions are on the clock in the first round. Haskins and Murray have decidedly different styles than Stafford, but both would benefit from his tutelage and from serving as his backup in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Lions QB Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford‘s underwhelming 2018 season has led some to wonder whether he’ll be sticking in Detroit long-term. Well, both Stafford and Lions head coach Matt Patricia have made it clear that the former top-overall pick is in it for the long haul.

“I think there’s something special about a guy getting a chance to play his entire career in one place,” Stafford told ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “Not many guys get to do that these days. I would love to be one of those guys.”

Patricia seemed to echo that logic, stating that Stafford will be back under center come the start of the 2019 season.

“We’re in a situation where Matt Stafford‘s our quarterback,” the head coach said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “That’s what it is. I think the world of the guy.”

Of course, the pairing has more to do with money than sentiment. Prior to the 2017 season, Stafford inked a lucrative five-year, $135MM contract that includes $92MM in guaranteed money (the deal kicked in at the beginning of this season). His base salary is fully guaranteed in 2019, and his salary cap hit is at $29.5MM. The team also doesn’t have an easy out via trade; the Lions would face a $30MM cap hit if they dealt Stafford. In other words, it’s in the organization’s best financial interest to give Stafford at least another season at the helm.

Still, despite the monetary implications, that hasn’t stopped some pundits from questioning if the Lions could start hunting for a new signal-caller. Last month, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wondered if the “culture change” in Detroit would eventually lead to the Lions seeking a new quarterback. As our own Andrew Ortenberg pointed out, it’s much more likely that the teams eyes a coaching change, potentially at offensive coordinator.

Stafford, 30, is on track to finish with his first season with fewer than 4,000 passing yards since 2011. In 15 games this season, Stafford has completed 66.3-percent of his passes for 3,511 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Stafford, Lions, Fournette, Jaguars, Trubisky

Matthew Stafford fell flat on Thanksgiving, throwing a pair of interceptions that cost the Lions the game. The loss dropped the Lions to 4-7 on the year, and more or less eliminated them from the NFC playoff picture. It naturally sparked a new wave of questions about Stafford’s future with the team, and has led many to speculate that he might not be the longterm solution in Detroit. Due to the “culture change” the Lions are implementing, it’s possible Detroit’s transformation “eventually will result in a new quarterback”, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

While Florio does note that Stafford’s massive contract will make it hard to move on from him before 2020 at the earliest, he does float a trade as a possibility. While Stafford hasn’t been great this year, he’d be an upgrade for many teams. The most likely course of action still remains that the Lions stick with Stafford and possibly make a change at offensive coordinator with Jim Bob Cooter if the offense continues to struggle.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was ejected from the team’s loss to the Bills today as part of a brawl that broke out between the two sides, and there was initially some concern he might be suspended. However, Fournette is not expected to be suspended, a source told Florio. The Jaguars’ season is quickly circling the drain at 3-8, and they can’t afford to be without Fournette for any period of time right now.
  • Mitchell Trubisky missed the Bears’ win over the Lions on Thanksgiving, and while the initial thought was that he could’ve played had it been a Sunday game, it’s no guarantee he’s back for Week 13. “It is not certain he will [return] and missing one more game is possible”, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Chase Daniel was just as good as Trubisky has been in his one start, so it’s not too much of a downgrade for Chicago’s offense. Schefter does add that if Trubisky is forced to sit out against the Giants, he’ll return the next week at the latest.
  • In case you missed it, the Texans are discussing a contract extension with Tyrann Mathieu.

Lions Announce Roster Cuts

In addition to trading offensive tackle Corey Robinson to the Panthers, the Lions have also reduced their roster to 53 players.

Released:

Waived:

Placed on injured reserve:

Placed on PUP:

Waived from injured reserve:

With Rudock out of the picture, Matt Cassel will serve as the backup to quarterback Matthew Stafford. Freeny conceivably could have made the roster based on his familiarity with head coach Matt Patricia, but the Lions went in another direction.

This Date In Transactions History: Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford is a rich, rich man. Five years ago today, the quarterback signed his second lucrative contract with the Lions. It was a three-year pact worth $53MM.

Nowadays, players look forward to these paydays, as the NFL’s rookie wage scale limits their earnings. However, back in 2013, Stafford was already playing on a lucrative contract with Detroit. After being selected as the first-overall pick in the 2009 draft, the Georgia product inked a record-breaking six-year deal worth $78MM ($41.7MM in guaranteed money). Stafford didn’t live up to his contract during first two seasons in the NFL. However, he had a breakout campaign in 2011, throwing for 5,038 passing yards and 41 touchdowns.

While he took a step back in 2012, the Lions still felt confident enough to sign Stafford to the three-year extension in 2013. At the time, the quarterback still had two seasons remaining on his contract, so the new deal effectively made it a five-year pact worth $76.5MM. The extension portion of the contract included $41.5MM in guaranteed money and a $27.5MM signing bonus. Signing Stafford early also allowed the Lions to reduce his impending $19.3MM cap hit.

I want to be about the team,” he said at the time (via ESPN.com). “I want to help the team out if I can in cap space, whatever it is. I want good players around me as a quarterback. It doesn’t hurt to have weapons and, you know, if I can help out anyway I can, I’m happy to do it.”

In the five years since signing his second extension, Stafford had shown a lot more consistency on the field. The 30-year-old hasn’t missed a game during that span, and he’s averaged around 4,388 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions per season. This improvement played a role in him earning his third contract from the Lions. Last offseason, the quarterback inked a five-year deal worth $135MM ($92MM guaranteed).

Assuming he doesn’t opt out following the 2020 season, there’s a good chance Stafford will continue being the Lions quarterback through the 2022 campaign. He could reach free agency when he’s 35-years-old, meaning Detroit might end up inking their franchise player to his fourth pricey contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Lions QB Matthew Stafford

After leaving last week’s loss to the Ravens with a right hand injury, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is still dealing with the issue, which could affect his status for Detroit’s Week 14 matchup against the Buccaneers, as head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.Matthew Stafford (Vertical)

“We’ll kind of see what he can do as the week goes on,” Caldwell said. “It’s not like it’s an insignificant injury. That’s not the case. It’s something that he’s going to have to really work at and deal with here during the course of the week to see where he is. He’s not out of the woods.”

Initial reports suggested that while Stafford did not suffer a broken hand, he is hampered by “nerve-type damage.” Additionally, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) later indicated that Stafford is also dealing with bruising, which could theoretically affect his ability to hold the football.

If Stafford can’t play on Sunday, the Lions would turn to backup Jake Rudock, who has only attempted five career passes since entering the NFL in 2016. Detroit is nearing the end of its rope in terms of playoff odds, as FiveThirtyEight gives the club only a 10% chance of earning a postseason berth at present.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Bears, Stafford, Falcons, Ellerbe

The Bears most recent loss to San Francisco this afternoon has Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun Times asking, “What’s left to evaluate?” in terms of what the franchise should do this offseason.

Jahns asserts that change is inevitable and that losing to one of the worst teams in the NFL is just a sign that there needs to be at least somewhat of an overhaul in the organization from top to bottom.

The reporter also cites that the team is not handling themselves like a 3-9 roster, as they frequently post videos of themselves fooling around in the locker room and had a heated exchange in practice between current wide receiver Josh Bellamy and the recently released Tre McBride. Despite the walls seeming to close on him, head coach John Fox expressed that his team had a good week of preparation for their Week 13 contest.

“It was hard to even talk to the team after this loss,” Fox said. “We had a great week of preparation. The guys’ mindsets [are] good; they’re working at it.”

Chicago has its young signal caller in Mitch Trubisky, but big changes may be on the horizon elsewhere on the roster and coaching staff considering the troubles the team has gone through in 2017.

  • Coming into Week 13 with a leg injury, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford also suffered “nerve-type damage” to his throwing hand during this afternoon’s game, according to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Meinke reports that while the 29-year-old signal caller didn’t suffer any breaks, but there was a lot of pain. “I couldn’t feel it too well, to tell you the truth,” Stafford said. “Had some, like, burning nerve pain, I didn’t know what it was going to be. But X-rays were negative.” With their loss today, Detroit will have to run the table in order to have a shot at the postseason, and it appears they’ll have to do it with their franchise signal caller not even close to full health.
  • There’s going to be at least some shakeup in the Falcons coaching staff this offseason. Quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan is leaving his position in Atlanta to become the new offensive coordinator at the University of Washington, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The position became available after the school’s former offensive coordinator, Jonathan Smith, became the head coach at Oregon State. Hamdan will wait till the end of the Falcons season before he departs for his new job.
  • Eagles linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is active for the first time this season for tonight’s game vs. Seattle, reports Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). The Eagles signed the veteran middle linebacker in the middle of November and he could see significant playing time because current Eagles starter Joe Walker is out with a neck injury. Ellerbe last played for New Orleans in Week 16 of the 2016-17 season.

NFC Notes: Rodgers, Stafford, Bucs

Despite the Packers falling behind in the NFC playoff picture, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was seen throwing the ball around prior to the start of the team’s Sunday night game in Pittsburgh. Now with Rodgers clearly progressing well, the soon-to-be 34-year-old may be ready to return to practice at the end of next week, reports Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Demovsky passed along that head coach Mike McCarthy dodged a question about if he expected his starting QB to return this season. The earliest date Rodgers could be activated off the injured reserve would be in Week 15.

  • Fellow NFC North signal, Lions QB Matthew Stafford suffered an injury of his own on Thanksgiving, but appears to be “feeling better”, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The injury appeared to be more serious, but is being classified as a sprained ankle by team doctors. “I’m feeling better,” Stafford said after practice on Monday. “Obviously stuck around in town this weekend, got a bunch of treatment on it. We’ll see. Coach (Jim Caldwell) will put out that report on Wednesday or whatever it is for practice and all that kind of stuff, but it’s getting better and hopefully it’ll continue to get better.” Obviously, the franchise quarterback will not be 100% healthy entering Week 13, but he’s fought through injuries before and it looks like he’ll be healthy enough to take on the Ravens this Sunday.
  • Despite an earlier report that Mississippi State may be targeting Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken for their heading coaching vacancy, Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter hasn’t heard anything about school’s interest, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). “To my knowledge, Todd Monken has not been contacted by Mississippi State. That comes from his mouth to my ear.” While the interest may be more in the gathering stage at this point, expect to hear some NFL assistants get some looks from schools as jobs open up. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is reportedly garnering interest in Arizona State’s open head coach position.
  • On the field, Stroud also reports that QB Jameis Winston could begin throwing again at practice this week, and could get enough work to start vs. the Packers this weekend. This would be a positive development for the third-year signal caller as he’s missed the team’s last three games with a shoulder injury. While the news is positive, Winston is also dealing with an NFL investigation off the field regarding a sexual assault allegation that stems from when Winston rode in an Uber last year.