NFL exec to ESPN: Lions will trade QB Matthew Stafford

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Division over quarterback Matthew Stafford might be at an all-time high, but one year into a five-year contract extension he signed in 2017, the idea the Detroit Lions would be able to go a different direction this offseason borders on irrational. 

But at least one NFL executive believes Stafford will be on the move in 2019. In an annual post of  anonymous predictions around league, one executive predicted on ESPN that Stafford will be traded this year. 

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is completing 66.3 percent of his passes, but is getting just 6.71 yards per attempt, his lowest since 2010.

"Patricia and (general manager Bob) Quinn both spent a long time in the Patriots' organization, where they watched Tom Brady very closely," the insider told ESPN. "They are going to want somebody who prepares and manages the game more like Tom."

More: Lions' Matt Patricia 'pretty confident' he'll be back in 2019

A second anonymous insider added, "Patricia is going to say, 'This is not the guy that is going to get me fired.'"

In Patricia's first season as coach, Stafford has put together an abysmal campaign. While the completion percentage is a respectable 66.3 percent, those completed passes have been minimally impactful. The quarterback is getting just 6.71 yards per attempt, his lowest since 2010, while his interception percentage is at a three-year low. 

And, unless he musters some late-game heroics in the season finale, this will mark the first season Stafford hasn't orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback during his 10-year career. 

But the financial ramifications of trading Stafford always will loom over any discussion of severing ties. In 2019, he's set to have a cap hit of $29.5 million, but also carries $30 million in dead money, tied to his $50 million signing bonus. That means it would cost the Lions more cap space to trade him than to keep him, and that's not even factoring in the cost of a potential replacement. 

A third insider on ESPN disputed Stafford is the problem in Detroit, echoing the sentiments of many of the quarterback's local supporters. 

"I think the Lions would be absolutely foolish to trade Stafford," the insider said. "They have never given him enough help. Even when he had good receiving weapons, there was no run game. This year, they traded Golden Tate despite still being in the playoff race."

In addition to the debate about trading Stafford, another one of the 10 predictions in the column was that former Lions coach Jim Caldwell will land another head job this offseason. 

Caldwell, who turns 65 next month, posted a 36-28 record in four seasons with the Lions, including back-to-back 9-7 campaigns before the team regressed to 5-10 this season under Patricia.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers