Matthew Stafford

Injury Notes: Stafford, Bridgewater, Bears

Matthew Stafford is dealing with a hand injury, but there’s hope the ailment won’t sideline the veteran. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the Lions quarterback suffered a “partial tear in a ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand.”

The team will evaluate Stafford’s ability to throw the ball throughout the week, but it’s expected that Stafford will ultimately be in uniform on Sunday against the Panthers.

2019 aside, Stafford has been remarkably durable throughout his NFL career. Prior to his season-ending injury last season, Stafford had appeared in 136 consecutive regular season contests, the sixth-longest mark in NFL history. The 32-year-old has had a solid comeback season for the 4-5-0 Lions, completing 63.7-percent of his passes for 2,403 yards, 17 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

If Stafford were to miss any time, the Lions would likely turn to backups Chase Daniel or David Blough.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the league…

  • Speaking of Lions/Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater‘s MCL sprain “is consider minor,” according to Pelissero (via Twitter). The Panthers quarterback is expected to practice on a limited basis at tomorrow’s practice, and as the reporter notes, head coach Matt Rhule had previously expressed optimism that Bridgewater will play against the Lions. Bridgewater suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of his team’s loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday.
  • Despite being carted off the field yesterday, Bears quarterback Nick Foles could be available following his team’s bye. While the veteran is dealing with both hip and glute injuries, coach Matt Nagy said Foles should be alright. “It wasn’t as bad as we once thought,” Nagy said (via Gene Chamberlain of the Associated Press). “He’ll be working through that here as we go, keeping an eye on that, kind of day to day.”
  • While Foles could play against the Packers in two weeks, Nagy wasn’t so confident that backup Mitch Trubisky will be in uniform. “I think there’s a possibility, but I don’t know that for sure,” Nagy said. “I think it’s going to be day by day. I don’t know if he knows that. So we’ll just keep an eye on that.” The former second-overall pick has seen only one snap since Week 3.

Lions Activate Matthew Stafford From Reserve/COVID-19 List

Matthew Stafford did not practice this week, but he is on track to start Sunday against the Vikings. The Lions activated their veteran starter from their reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.

The Lions placed Stafford on their COVID list Tuesday, but since his last contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus occurred Monday, he will be eligible to play against the Vikings. Should Stafford’s most recent COVID test come back negative Sunday morning, he will start.

This marked the 12th-year quarterback’s second stay on the team’s reserve/COVID list. However, Stafford’s summer placement turned out to be a false positive that prompted the NFL to change its coronavirus protocols. The league has continued to tinker with its virus protocols, leading more players to land on teams’ respective COVID lists as the season has progressed.

Stafford ranks 17th in QBR this season. He will now face Minnesota without having practiced this week and with Kenny Golladay having been declared out with a hip injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Place QB Matthew Stafford On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Lions announced earlier tonight that they’ve placed Matthew Stafford on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like the quarterback will have to miss any time.

As ESPN’s Adam Schefter explains on Twitter, Stafford is “considered a high-risk, close contact from a non team member.” Since his most recent contact came on Monday, the veteran will be eligible to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday, making him eligible to play against the Vikings this weekend.

Of course, everything could change if Stafford’s tests don’t come back negative. Fortunately, his wife, Kelly, stated on Instagram that the 32-year-old hasn’t tested positive.

As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes, Stafford landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list back in July. It was later learned that his test showed a false positive, prompting changes to the NFL’s testing protocol.

Stafford’s completed only 61.4-percent of his passes this season, his worst showing since 2014. However, he’s still put up solid counting numbers, including 1,916 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, and only five interceptions in seven games. In the event that Stafford was sidelined, the team would turn to either Chase Daniel or David Blough.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Restructure Matthew Stafford’s Contract

The Lions have reworked QB Matthew Stafford‘s contract. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the Lions will convert $7.8MM of Stafford’s 2020 base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link).

As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press observes, Stafford’s renegotiation in 2019 gave the Lions the ability to exercise a $7.2MM option bonus by yesterday (Twitter link). That would have resulted in a $15MM total salary, so the club instead elected to make $7.8MM of that amount a signing bonus in order to spread out the cap charge a bit.

Stafford, 32, was the subject of trade speculation earlier this year, though Lions GM Bob Quinn was quick to shoot down those rumors. There was also some thought that Detroit could use its No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft to select a future heir to Stafford, but that didn’t happen either. As of right now, it seems as if Stafford will remain in Detroit at least through the end of his current contract, which expires after the 2022 season (with a voidable year in 2023 for cap purposes).

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft was in the midst of a very strong season in 2019 before a serious back injury suffered in November put an end to his streak of 136 consecutive starts and ultimately landed him on IR. Prior to that, he had compiled nearly 2,500 passing yards and 19 TDs against just five interceptions, good for a career-best 106.0 QB rating.

Stafford is now fully healthy and is ready to lead his team against the division-rival Bears in this afternoon’s season opener.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Place Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay On Reserve/COVID-19 List

TODAY: Good news for the Lions. Stafford has been removed from the COVID-19 list and has been placed back on the active roster, per a team statement. Apparently, the third test that he was required to take before entering team facilities resulted in what turned out to be a false positive, but his next three tests were all negative. Neither Stafford nor any members of his household have (or had) COVID-19.

AUGUST 1: The Lions placed Matthew Stafford on their reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday. He joins Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson and Justin Coleman on Detroit’s list.

Placement on this list does not mean these players tested positive for the coronavirus. The list also includes players who are quarantining because they came in contact with someone who has tested positive. Stafford will join Golladay, Hockenson and Coleman in being away from the bulk of Lions teammates for the time being.

Thus far, Stafford is the NFL’s highest-profile player to land on the COVID list. He is, however, believed to be asymptomatic at this time, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Cornerback Amani Oruwariye, punter Arryn Siposs, safety Jalen Elliott and tight end Isaac Nauta are also on Detroit’s reserve/COVID list. Among the Lions’ group, as of Saturday, it is known Coleman tested positive, though NFL.com reported the veteran slot corner is asymptomatic.

If Stafford tested positive, he will be required to miss at least five days. This waiting period is only for asymptomatic players. Players who test positive and have symptoms for the virus must miss at least 10 days. That number is fluid; it depends on symptoms players experience. Players who land in either category must test negative twice before rejoining the team.

In this altered training camp format, practices do not begin until Aug. 12. Full practices do not start until Aug. 17, so the Lions have a bit of time for their group of starters to return. Teams begin their strength and conditioning-based acclimation periods Monday. Of course, this all depends on the players’ issues with the virus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Notes: COVID, Stafford, Kaepernick

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has authorized the return of professional sports, as we learned earlier this morning. She made it clear that capacity crowds will not be permitted until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, but Lions team president Rod Wood is trying to get Ford Field opened up to fans just the same. Wood released the following statement via the team’s official Twitter account.

“Governor Whitmer’s most recent Executive Order is an exciting step forward in our preparation for the 2020 season. We are working closely with her office to evaluate when and how we can safely play in front of our fans. With nearly 3 months until our regular season home opener at Ford Field, I’m optimistic and encouraged by our progress.”

It seems that most, if not all, teams will be playing in front of empty or partially-full stadiums in 2020, and Wood is hopeful that his club will be able to generate at least some gate revenue this year.

Now for more on the Lions:

  • Lions QB Matthew Stafford has been saying for some time that he is fully healthy, and the team posted a brief video clip of its signal-caller working out with teammates, which suggests that Stafford is indeed ready to go (Twitter link). While that’s certainly encouraging, it’s also notable that the workout is in contravention of the advice of NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, who said players should not be practicing together privately. Stafford is by no means the only QB1 to be participating in workouts, and as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, the 32-year-old signal-caller has made adjustments to try and keep himself and his teammates healthy.
  • Sheila Ford Hamp will take over her mother’s duties as principal owner and chairperson of the Lions, and she said she is going to take a very hands-on approach (Twitter link via Rothstein). Given Lions fans’ general feelings towards the Ford family, that may or may not be welcome, but Hamp said her first course of business will be to meet with members of the organization’s departments that she is less familiar with. As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets, Hamp specifically noted that she wants to learn more about the analytics side of the operation.
  • Hamp has also said that she would sign off on the team’s acquisition of QB Colin Kaepernick if her football people thought it was in the club’s best interests (video link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). The Lions, though, appear to be an imperfect schematic fit for Kaepernick, and in any event, neither Detroit nor any other club has reached out to him yet.

Lions’ Matthew Stafford Says He’s Staying

The Lions checked in with Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa before the draft, fueling some speculation about Matthew Stafford‘s future. Meanwhile, the Staffords have put their Detroit-area home up for sale. This week, the quarterback and his wife shot down any talk of a job-related relocation.

[RELATED: Lions To Play In Empty Stadium?]

I pay less attention to (the trade rumors) than my wife does,” Stafford said Thursday (via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). “But it’s something that doesn’t bother me. Listen, I’m here, I want to be here. I love being a Detroit Lion, I love leading this team.”

The Stafford family put their five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home on the market. The lakefront home features an infinity swimming pool and an indoor basketball court partially fashioned with the Pistons’ original hardwood floor at the Pontiac Silverdome. In case you’re interested in this little fixer-upper of a summer shack, the asking price is $6.5MM. And, don’t worry, the Staffords aren’t looking to leave Michigan.

No speculation is needed. We’re about to have our fourth child and I personally do not want to live on a lake or have a pool with four children [under the age of 4],” Kelly Stafford said on Instagram (h/t Rothstein). “So that is the reason that it is on the market.”

The Lions front office has also repeatedly shot down the possibility of moving on from Stafford. Yes, he’s 32 and, yes, he did miss half of the 2019 season, but he enjoyed a 136-game streak of consecutive starts before the back problems surfaced. And, in his eight starts, he threw for nearly 2,500 yards, 19 touchdowns, and five interceptions while ranking No. 8 in ESPN’s Total QB Rating.

This year, he’s set to be on the Lions’ payroll for $21.3MM. After that, his cap number moves to $33MM in 2021. They may have liked Herbert, Tagovailoa, and some of the other QBs in this year’s draft class, but Stafford is the quarterback who gives them the best chance to win in 2020. For his part, Stafford says the speculation doesn’t bother him very much.

I really don’t pay too much attention to ’em,” Stafford said of the talk. “I pay less attention to them than my wife does. But it’s something that doesn’t bother me. I’m here. I want to be here. I love being a Detroit Lion. I love leading this team. So all that kind of stuff is just kind of out there to be out there. It’s a slow news month at that point, and I’m just happy to be where I am and ready to deal with this offseason the way it is and try to make the best of the season that I hope happens.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Stafford, Bears

Bryan Bulaga did not quite make it to free agency in 2015; the Packers extended their starting right tackle at the 11th hour. This time, he could be on the move. The 10-year veteran is expected to generate immense interest, with Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com tweeting the Bulaga market should come in around $12MM per year. Bulaga signed for five years and $33.75MM five years ago, so this would mark a substantial raise for the veteran. Despite going into his 11th year, Bulaga will only be 31 come Week 1. After more injury trouble surfaced in 2017, he has played in 30 of a possible 32 regular-season games since.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • The Lions appear likely to have their quarterback back in time for OTAs. Matthew Stafford has healed up from the back injury that ended his 2019 season, according to his wife (Instagram link). Kelly Stafford indicated her husband has been healed for several weeks now. Kelly recently refuted a report the Staffords wanted out of Detroit, and GM Bob Quinn said the Lions are not shopping him. While this still figures to be a key year for the longest-tenured starting quarterback in Lions history, Stafford should be able to throw come April.
  • If the Raiders make Derek Carr available, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune expects the Bears to show interest. The Bears are interested in bringing in competition for Mitchell Trubisky; Carr might be overqualified for such a role. The third-place MVP finisher in 2016 posted the NFL’s 10th-best QBR last season — well north of Trubisky, whose 39.5 figure ranked third-to-last. Carr carries a non-guaranteed contract; he is set to earn $18.9MM in 2020 base salary. That price comes in $1.4MM higher than Dalton’s.
  • Do not expect a reunion between the Vikings and Mike Remmers. Even if the team makes left tackle Riley Reiff a cap casualty and moves right tackle Brian O’Neill to that spot, Chris Tomasson notes the Vikings are not expected to be interested in a low-cost Remmers deal (Twitter link). Remmers was Minnesota’s right tackle starter from 2017-18 and will not return to the Giants next season.
  • The Packers recently added to their coaching staff, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweeting the team hired Butch Barry as a senior assistant. A Wisconsin native, Barry was the Buccaneers’ assistant offensive line coach from 2015-18. He spent the 2019 season as the Miami Hurricanes’ offensive line coach.
  • Additionally, the Packers promoted second-year staffer Jason Vrable from offensive assistant to wide receivers coach, the team announced. Vrable has not coached a position since serving as the Bills’ assistant QBs coach for part of the 2016 season. Otherwise, he’s spent his career as an offensive assistant or a quality control staffer.

Jeff Driskel Expected To Have Strong Market

Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel is expected to have a “plump” free-agent market for his services, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Birkett notes that as the NFL becomes more open to dual-threat quarterbacks, Driskel’s skill set has become more desirable to NFL teams.

The former Florida quarterback appears well-positioned to secure a backup job after vagabonding around the league since the 49ers selected him in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. After failing to make the 49ers 53-man roster, the Bengals claimed him off waivers and he served as depth in Cincinnati behind Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron.

Following the 2017 season, McCarron signed with the Bills and Dalton became the primary backup behind Dalton. In 2018, Driskel began contributing in sub-packages where the team utilized his athleticism. An injury to Dalton allowed Driskel to make five starts as well. He finished the season completing 105 of 176 passes for 1003 yards, 6 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, with 130 rushing yards on 30 carries.

Last season, with the Lions, Driskel was the first to step in for Matthew Stafford after his injury. He made three starts before a hamstring injury of his own ended his season. He completed 62 of 105 passes for 685 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions with 151 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

QB Rumors: Stafford, Dalton, Saints

A rumor surfaced recently indicating the Lions discussed a Matthew Stafford trade. GM Bob Quinn denied this, and multiple key parties were quick to state the 11-year veteran quarterback does not want to leave Detroit. Stafford’s agent, Tom Condon, informed NFL.com’s Michael Silver his client does not want a trade (Twitter link). The quarterback’s wife, Kelly Stafford, shared on her Instagram (Twitter links via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett) they are not angling for a new NFL city. Matthew Stafford, 32, is under contract for three more seasons.

Here is the latest from the quarterback realm, moving to a passer who very much is available for trade:

  • Despite the Saints set to start a 41-year-old Drew Brees and apply a high tender to intriguing gadget player/backup Taysom Hill, they may not be prepared to draft a passer this year. Although some mock drafts have the Saints taking Utah State’s Jordan Love, Larry Holder of The Athletic notes (subscription required) the Saints do not appear to be interested. The Saints hold the No. 24 pick in the draft, and it might now be a surprise to see Love still on the board at that point.
  • Brees-Hill 2020 looks like the Saints’ plan. Combine buzz centered around Bridgewater’s next team, with Holder speaking to no NFL decision-maker who expected Brees’ backup of the past two years to return. Sean Payton said it would be unrealistic for the Saints to bring back all three, and Bridgewater is expected to receive interest as a starter in free agency. The Bears, Buccaneers, Chargers, Panthers and Patriots may possess some interest, Holder hears. Though, unlike Tom Brady and Philip Rivers, no team has been connected to Bridgewater yet.
  • Like Brady and Rivers, Andy Dalton has also been connected to a team. The Bears discussed a trade with the Bengals but may have to battle other teams for the nine-year veteran starter. Dalton’s agent has been working with the Bengals on potential Dalton deals, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com names the Colts and Patriots — in addition to the Bears — as teams who could potentially have interest in the contract-year passer (video link). The Colts have been connected to Rivers at multiple junctures this week, while some around the league have indeed viewed New England as a landing spot for Dalton if Brady does decide to defect in free agency. Cincinnati and New England have made multiple trades involving high-profile Bengals, and the same two decision-makers — Mike Brown and Bill Belichick — remain in place from when Corey Dillon and Chad Johnson were dealt to New England in 2004 and 2011, respectively.