How the Stafford Trade Affects the Vikings

Photo Credit: Raj Mehta (USA TODAY Sports)

The Detroit Lions traded longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for quarterback Jared Goff, a 2021 third-round pick, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.

It became pretty evident after the hiring of new head coach Dan Campbell that the Lions were looking to move in another direction after finishing bottom of the NFC North again last year, and they got a king’s ransom for Stafford. Detroit is undergoing another rebuild, and Stafford will enter his age-33 season next year. The Lions managed to stock up on draft capital for the future, but they also inherited the final four years and $106.6 million on Goff’s contract.

It likely makes the Rams NFC favorites next season. They acquired a top-10 quarterback to pair with their No. 1 defense and Sean McVay’s brilliant offensive mind. They also thwarted the San Francisco 49ers, who were reportedly also interested in Stafford.

This trade probably sets the Lions back in the short term. They are undoubtedly losing the best player on their team, but they may be getting out ahead of other rebuilding teams with the picks they acquired in the deal. This trade also makes it unlikely that they will re-sign receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.

The biggest downside for Detroit is that they are on the hook for the rest of Goff’s deal. However, they will likely draft a young quarterback in the next year or two, and Goff’s contract should be up by the time that player is up for an extension.

Trading Stafford is a massive risk for Dan Campbell and new general manager Brad Holmes. They have already gotten off to a bit of a rocky start after an opening press conference where Campbell advocated figuratively biting off the kneecaps. This trade will wind up being both of their legacies with the Lions, and they won’t be around for long if they are unable to find a long-term answer at quarterback.

This likely means that if they don’t select a potential franchise quarterback in the first round that they may grab a wideout and look for a quarterback in the draft next year. But having two future first-rounders also provides them with the ability to move up and take either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson in the first round.

Perhaps the most important implication of this trade will be on the offseason quarterback market, as many mid-tier quarterbacks look to find new homes over the offseason. Like the Niners, teams who are a quarterback away will need to pay a premium even to land a mid-level quarterback.

The Houston Texans also are winners from the trade. After seeing what Stafford went for, the Texans can demand even more for Deshaun Watson, 25, a much better quarterback in his prime. I previously thought it would take three first-round picks to land Watson, but now, the price may have become even higher after this move.

This trade opens up an exciting avenue for the Minnesota Vikings. San Francisco has limited options for a new starting quarterback with a big name going off the market next season. With Kirk Cousins and Kyle Shannahan having worked together before in Washington, it is conceivable that they could look to reunite, and the Vikings could get similar if not more compensation for Cousins. They could set themselves up for the future if they can flip Cousins to San Francisco and land Watson.

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