Lions mailbag, Part 2: Would Super Bowl win make Matthew Stafford Hall of Famer?
Allen Park — Welcome back to the second part of our offseason Detroit Lions mailbag. Make sure to go back and read the first part, if you missed it.
► Q: Would one Super Bowl win get Matthew Stafford into the Hall of Fame? - @Jimmyb1478
► A: Yeah, I think it would, especially if he wins that Super Bowl with the Lions.
As it currently stands, I don't think Stafford is a Hall of Fame quarterback. The active quarterbacks who are obviously choices are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers.
In my opinion, Eli Manning shouldn't make it, but he will. Win two Super Bowls in New York, it doesn't matter if the totality of your career was average. Russell Wilson probably becomes a more obvious choice with a few more years of high-level production. And of the young guns, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, are all likely to make strong cases with longevity.
From a production standpoint, Stafford has put up monster numbers, but so have many guys in this era. Passing for 5,000 yards isn't what it used to be; Jaemis Winston just did it. In terms of yards per game, 11 of the top 15 quarterbacks all-time are active players. Same with passer rating and completion percentage, where 10 of the top 15 on both lists are active.
Gaudy numbers alone won't do it, even if Stafford ends up top-five all-time in both yards and touchdowns, which he has a legit shot to do if he can stay healthy enough for seven or eight more seasons. No, he'll need team success.
A Super Bowl victory alone isn't enough to punch a quarterback's ticket, but combined with the historic nature of getting the Lions over the hump, along with a number of top-10 passing marks, it would be tough to keep Stafford out of the Hall, at that point.
► Q: If the Lions really wanted Chase Young, what would be the cost to move up one spot? - @scalka74
► A: Well, we have recent precedent for this exact scenario. In 2017, the Chicago Bears gave the 49ers two thirds and a fourth to move up one spot, from No. 3 to No. 2. So that's you're starting point and probably too much for a Lions team that needs more assets, not fewer, if it hopes to contend for a playoff spot in 2020.
It should be noted, it might cost even more to compel Washington to pull the trigger. Given a number of quarterback-needy teams a few spots down the board, the demand for the No. 2 selection could be higher than it was in 2017.
► Q: If Danny Amendola leaves as rumored, is a returning Marvin Hall a viable replacement, or is he strictly an outside guy and the Lions will need to sign or draft a starting caliber slot receiver? - @iconsilk713
► A: Let's start with the first point and address the rumor. There was a tweet out of Boston hinting that Amendola might pair up with Tom Brady again. That's a pretty flimsy rumor, but since Amendola is a free agent, nothing guarantees his return to Detroit, so let's consider the possibility of 2020 without the veteran.
Hall is intriguing because the glimpse we got of his abilities last season were tantalizing. Even when opponents knew it was coming, he was blowing the tops off their defenses, averaging a staggering 37.3 yards per reception.
The problem was there were only seven catches, and almost all deep balls. We just don't know how effective Hall can be running a more complete route tree, particularly the short and intermediate stuff that dominates what most slot receivers do.
Hall can line up inside and out. He played about a third of his snaps in the slot last season, but there's just not enough tape to suggest he's the right guy for the job, full-time. Maybe the Lions have seen that on the practice field, but I'm unable to provide a reasonable evaluation.
► Q: Why is Tua Tagovailoa being treated as a can't-miss QB when his numbers are mostly padded with stats against bad teams? - @bjsburner
► A: Is that really a fair characterization? In 2018, he completed 25 of 32 passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions against Auburn. Against Oklahoma in the playoffs, he went 24-for-27, 318 yards, four scores, no picks. And in a loss to LSU this past season, 408 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
Most elite prospects are going to do consistently better against inferior competition, but Tagovailoa also had some stellar games against good opponents. His accuracy and touch are advanced and it's reasonable to project better decision-making with experience. I can see why some analysts are comparing him to Drew Brees, just based on the skill set.
What must be stated is no prospect, especially quarterback, should be considered can't-miss. There's supposed to be a greater degree of certainty in the first round, particularly the top-10, but there are busts every year.
Personally, I'm less concerned about Tagovailoa's talent than his injury history. Beyond his recent, devastating hip issue that required season-ending surgery, he's had knee, ankle and quad injuries. We'll ignore the broken finger, since that could happen to anyone. Still, that's a concerning number of lower-body issues, which would give me pause when considering investing in him as my franchise's future.
► Q: How much are we talking for a contract extension for Kenny Golladay? - @threedailypicks
► A: A lot. A whole lot.
Conservatively, we can largely agree Golladay is a top-20 receiver in the NFL. He's clearly behind elite talents like DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones and Michael Thomas. But Golladay fits into a second-tier of No. 1 guys like Allen Robinson, Davante Adams and Courtland Sutton.
So let's look at the deals being handed out for that caliber of receiver. Adams got a four-year extension worth $58 million in 2017. Robinson netted three years, $42 million as a free agent in 2018.
Because of inflation, caused by steadily increasing salary cap, it's safe to suggest an extension for Golladay could start in the range of $15 million per year.
► Q: Why do so many former Lions talk trash about the organization after leaving? Is it just easy pickings for media or something more? - @313in312
► A: It's difficult to pick a direction to go with this response. The second part of your question would imply that reporters are eagerly seeking out guys to trash the Lions, but that's hardly the case. Well, at least that's never been my approach.
This week, you're seeing some negativity directed toward the Lions, but consider the source. It's a group of guys the team discarded who are now preparing to play for the Super Bowl. Are you surprised they are happier in their current situation? There's frequently this talk about culture, but what truly defines a good culture is success. They didn't have that here and they're having it there. Of course, the comparisons between the two environments, when said aloud, are going to be stark.
Of course, there are plenty of instances of players saying good things about Detroit and those being written, as well. Nate Burleson is a non-stop fountain of positivity when talking about Detroit. And when Golden Tate heaped praise of Matthew Stafford last year, you better believe that was also a story that was written up.
But people cling to negative stories more. It's why we spend more time reading a police blotter than about canned food drives. Fans love to play the Detroit vs. Everybody card.
The reality of the situation is Detroit hasn't been a good place for NFL football for a long time. The team hasn't won a division or playoff game in nearly three decades. It's not surprising former players aren't signing the franchise's praises after departing. What's important, when the opportunities present themselves, is to offer them the chance to expound upon the differences between Detroit and the places where they're having success, to see if there are common threads for the failures here.
► Q: Chiefs or 49ers? - @FVDintheMHC
► A: I haven't really had to think about it too much, which is nice. If I have to pick, I guess I'm going with the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes' success against the Cover-3 and Cover-4 looks the 49ers lean on is the deciding factor.
► Q: Would you say it’s more likely we re-sign A’Shawn Robinson or Sam Martin? - @nerdwithkids
► A: Probably Robinson, although I wouldn't classify either as likely. At least with a defensive tackle, it's easier to get value. I would expect the Lions to either add a rookie punter or give Matt Wile the job in 2020. The former Michigan standout has flashed a big leg as a fill-in option at a few stops the past couple years.
► Q: Best go-to snacks for the big game? - @MJHovinga
► A: Assuming they qualify as snacks, I'm a traditionalist with chicken wings and chili.
► Q: Lions looking to draft a RB in middle rounds and if so, who are some potential targets? - @adambouton
► A: We talked about the need, or lack thereof, to draft a running back this year in the first part of the mailbag. But if the Lions do go that route, here are a couple names worth considering in the middle rounds:
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State: Great vision, solid after-contact runner and a capable pass-catching option out of the backfield.
Antonio Gibson, Memphis: Big frame at 223 pounds, wildly elusive with some kick returning ability on the resume. Here's the fascinating part: He only had 77 touches on offense during his college career. Impressively, he scored on 14 of them.
Joshua Kelley, UCLA: Uninspiring numbers during his two seasons with the Bruins, but he showed eye-opening burst and vision during the Senior Bowl practices coached by the Lions staff.
► Q: Panthers parted with Greg Olsen, but he still wants to play. Any chance the Lions snag him in so he can mentor Hockenson? - @TNLion1
► A: Olsen would be an awesome mentor for T.J. Hockenson, but with Jesse James on a long-term deal and not going anywhere, it would be a weird fit. You'd essentially be relegating your free-agent addition from a year ago, one with a $5.3 million cap hit in 2020, to the bench.
Additionally, Olsen turns 35 in March and is a major durability concern. He managed to play 14 games last year, but only 16 combined the two seasons before that.
The more likely scenario is Olsen latches on with a contender, such as New England or Seattle.
► Q: Everyone talks about the 3rd pick, and I’m less worried about that one considering who’s on the board. My question is, what do we do with the 35th pick? - @suingb5477
► A: You're right, there seem to be a finite number of really good options when you're selecting No. 3 overall. But trying to project 35 is almost impossible. Even more so at this time of year. There are so many possibilities, from trading back into the first round to staying put and addressing any number of needs.
Personally, if the value lines up, it strikes me as a great spot to address the team's need at guard. But you couldn't go wrong with a cornerback like Troy Pride, Noah Igbinoghene or A.J. Terrell, or one of the many talented wide receivers in this class.
► Q: Do you ever see a scenario where the NFL would move the Super Bowl to Saturday night? - @EricSalonen
► A: It seems like an unlikely break from tradition, but money makes the world go round. If the NFL ever felt there was a massive financial incentive to switching the day, that would probably be the thing most likely to move the needle.
► Q: What is the difference between the cap hit if we keep Stafford versus trading him?
► A: I added this question since the numbers have changed a bit since we've addressed it in the past, due to a late-season contract restructure.
In 2020, Matthew Stafford is scheduled to have a cap hit of $21.3 million, 13th among quarterbacks. If the Lions traded him, that hit would jump to $32 million, due to bonus money that's currently set to be spaced out over the remainder of his contract.
So yeah, it makes no sense to even have that conversation right now.
In 2021, it's a different conversation. Stafford's cap hit jumps to $33 million that season, while the dead money is $19 million.