Patriots

What the Matthew Stafford trade means for the Patriots

Stafford was reportedly traded to the Rams for Jared Goff and three draft picks.

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford won't be coming to New England. AP Photo/Tony Ding

The Lions got ahead of the curve and reportedly traded their longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday. In return, the Lions received quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round draft picks, and a third-round draft pick.

With the first domino down in this offseason’s QB carousel, here’s what the Stafford trade means for the Patriots.

The Patriots’ search for a quarterback continues.

The obvious takeaway from Saturday night’s reported trade is that there’s now one less quarterback on the market for the Patriots to potentially acquire.

New England reportedly showed interest in acquiring Stafford. The Patriots did inquire about the Lions quarterback, but the extent of the inquiry is unknown, according to the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. With Stafford going for such a hefty price, Giardi speculated that the Patriots probably weren’t in the conversation to trade for Stafford for long.

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The interest in Stafford was strong throughout the league, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. A few teams even offered their 2021 first-round draft picks, Rapoport added. If that was the case, it’s possible that the Patriots did offer the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Lions for Stafford. If they did indeed offer their first-round pick for Stafford, it would show that the Patriots are willing to spend high capital in order to have their quarterback situation settled for the 2021 season.

The other thing the Stafford trade does is set the market for other quarterbacks that could be traded this offseason. While the Rams gave up three draft picks for Stafford, adding Goff in the deal caused the Rams to give up more draft picks, Rapoport reported. Whether the Rams had to add another first-round pick or if they had to add the third-round pick is anyone’s guess, but we now know that the cost to trade for a good quarterback is at least a first-round pick and a third-round pick.

Of course, there likely isn’t going to be many other quarterbacks at Stafford’s level available for trade this offseason. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson seems to be the only potential option after he reportedly requested a trade.

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Any trade for Watson would very likely cost more than it cost the Rams to get Stafford. With Watson being just 25-years-old and leading the league in passing this season, teams may have to give up multiple first-round picks as a starting point in a trade for Watson.

It lessens the Patriots’ chances of bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo.

If you were hoping for Jimmy Garoppolo to make his way back to New England, the Stafford trade is probably bad news for you.

The 49ers reportedly showed interest in trading for Stafford. If San Francisco was able to pull off the trade, Garoppolo’s days in the Bay Area would’ve probably been finished and the 49ers would have likely moved him.

By striking out on Stafford, the 49ers don’t have many other options to improve their quarterback situation. With Watson likely being the only other top-tier quarterback possibly on the move, the 49ers could find themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to bring Garoppolo back.

Now, San Franciso might not need to get a veteran quarterback in order to move on from Garoppolo. The 49ers hold the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, placing them in a spot where drafting one of the top quarterback prospects is possible.

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If the 49ers draft a quarterback, they can easily move off of Garoppolo’s contract. San Francisco would only have $2.8 million in dead cap space if the team traded or released Garoppolo, who has two years and $53.4 million left on his current deal.

However, bringing in a rookie quarterback and moving on from Garoppolo, who was at the helm for the 49ers’ Super Bowl run in 2019, would be a risky move for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

One less team drafting ahead of the Patriots is likely to draft a quarterback.

If there is good news for Patriots fans following the Stafford trade, it’s that there’s now one less team that will be involved in the quarterback carousel.

By getting Goff in return for Stafford, the Lions should be all set at the quarterback position for 2021, thus making drafting a quarterback in the first round of the draft unlikely. This helps the Patriots because the Lions currently hold the seventh pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and were one of the many teams draft experts thought would pick a quarterback in the first round.

This doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the Patriots get one of the top quarterback prospects. The Jaguars are expected to draft Trevor Lawrence at No. 1, taking one of the top prospects off of the board. Draft experts have also projected any one of the Jets, Falcons, Panthers, Broncos, and 49ers to pick Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or Trey Lance. With those teams picking in front of the Patriots, it’s still possible they miss out on a top quarterback prospect without trading up. Still, the trade has to be seen as a good sign for the Patriots — at least on the draft front.

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