Green Bay Packers

Why the Stafford Trade Matters to the Packers

Photo Credit: Tim Fuller (USA TODAY Sports)

As we all know by now, Matthew Stafford was traded over the weekend to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and multiple picks. For the Detroit Lions, it likely means a restart at quarterback because it’s hard to imagine them seeing Goff as the long-term answer. For the NFC North, this was one big domino to fall in an off-season where there is plenty of uncertainty.

While internally the Green Bay Packers have their own items to deal with, like are they going to try to bring back Aaron Jones (seems unlikely) or Jamaal Williams (more plausible)? What is the right price will be for Corey Linsley to return? And how will they navigate around having their backs against the salary cap wall? Could Aaron Rodgers get a new deal with a large signing bonus?

Needless to say, they will have a close eye on what the rest of the NFC North is doing.

The Stafford deal also shines a light on what a Rodgers trade package could look like.

Did that trigger you? Are you upset with that? Did you fall for my trap? The Packers aren’t trading Rodgers this year, but I’m glad I have your attention now.

The best outcome for the Packers is that nobody else changes QBs in the NFC North. The thought of the Packers going up against Kirk Cousins, Mitchell Trubisky, and Goff for their six division games is extremely comforting and reassuring. The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears would remain the same while the Rams are downgraded for the short term.

Many questioned the Stafford trade for the Rams without realizing how big of an upgrade Stafford is from Goff. Detroit got far worse at quarterback but added some picks and a serviceable placeholder. Stafford has been a pain for the Packers throughout the years and is now gone.

Here’s where things get interesting: Deshaun Watson has asked for a trade.

There is really no doubting that Watson is a top five quarterback. Right now the Vikings are staring at another year of Cousins and the Bears look as though they are set for another QB carousel ride, so either team landing Watson is a game-changer.

But either team landing him seems unlikely which has to make the Packers vindictively smile.

Any trade for Watson for the Vikings means giving back Cousins. There’s no chance Houston wants to sign up for that, meaning perhaps a third or fourth team would need to get involved. I’ve heard show hosts on local radio in Minneapolis go back and forth on the idea of trading for Watson because they don’t want to “give up too much.” The trade scenarios that were discussed always centered around picks, Kirk and Danielle Hunter. And they were hesitant about the idea of that trade package.

It’s one of the reasons I cease to understand some Vikings fans logic. Keep rolling with Kirk then, the Packers are more than okay with that.

What about the Bears? Well, it comes down to picks because hard to see what high-end talent they could offer in a trade. Sure Khalil Mack and a few others like Eddie Jackson and Akiem Hicks are incredible. But Mack is going to be 30, Hicks is 31, it’s just hard to see what else they can offer up that would be better than what a team like the Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers can offer.

If Watson joined the Vikings or Bears it would shift the power in the NFC North for a decade. But can either come up with a package that beats out what someone else could offer? Both teams have their limitations.

The Packers have their own issues to worry about. Who is the next defensive coordinator going to be? They made the right choice in letting Mike Pettine walk, but now they need to back it up with someone who can maximize the talent on the defensive side of the ball.

Green Bay had one of the best running back units in the entire NFL last year. Aaron Jones was a monster again, Jamaal Williams was the thunder to the lightning, and rookie AJ Dillion had a couple of eye-popping performances after a lengthy stay on the COVID-19 list. But Jones and Williams are both free agents and could be priced out of Green Bay.

And there is uncertainty on the offensive line. Linsley is a free agent and we don’t know the timetable for a David Bakhtiari return. There’s a couple candidates to be cut to save cap space.

All this will be figured out in the weeks and months to come.

So while the Packers have their own business to attend to, anything else that happens in the division — specifically at the quarterback position — could mold the NFC North for the next 10 years or so.

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