Washington needs to try and work on a trade for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Immediately.
ESPN reported Saturday that Detroit will work to move the 12-year veteran before what looks like yet another Lions rebuild, and the deficiencies at the QB position in Washington are well documented.
As a result of injury and ineptitude the team started four different passers in 2020, which makes the 7-9 division title that much more remarkable. Chase Young and the Washington defense had a terrific year, finishing in the Top 5 of nearly every major statistical category and catapulting Washington’s late season 5-2 record. If that defense gets matched with a consistent strong offense, Ron Rivera’s team could be a real threat in 2021. Of course, consistently strong offenses only happen with consistently strong QB play. Stafford could provide that. He’s thrown for more than 45,000 yards in his career, and last season went over 4,000 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has eight seasons with more than 4,000 passing yards, and in 2011 Stafford went over 5,000 passing yards. And he should cost much less than Deshaun Watson, another QB rumored to be on the trade block.
Let’s be honest, a Stafford move wouldn’t be as impactful as a Watson move, but it’s official that Detroit is looking to move the former No. 1 overall pick. There’s no assurance Watson will even get traded. Stafford turns 33 in February, while Watson will be 25 when the 2021 season starts. New Washington GM Martin Mayhew actually drafted Stafford back in 2009, and it’s possible he can pull the levers required to reunite with the QB in Washington. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. Stafford has dealt with significant injury in the last few seasons. Every NFL team should be nervous, or at least wary, about trading for a quarterback with back issues. Washington will also have to deal with Alex Smith. If the plan is Stafford, then Smith is clearly out of the plan. Stafford is on the books for $33 million in 2021, though that cap number would likely drop in a trade, while Smith counts for $24 million. Those salaries, and each player's resume, won’t allow for both to inhabit the Washington QB room. Not to mention Stafford might want a new deal or contract extension to accept a trade. That isn’t enough to stop Washington from pursuing Stafford in a trade.
Smith has been an incredible leader for the Burgundy and Gold and is a legendary comeback story for all human beings. But a lingering calf injury/bone bruise late in the 2020 season served as a reality check toward his long-term prospects. And he’ll be 37 this spring. It’s a tough pill, but Washington can release Smith and recoup some cap savings. It’s a brutal move considering the comeback story, but football is a brutal business. Go get Stafford. He can help this team immediately and give Washington’s offense a serious spark. That, combined with a young, explosive defense, would change the tenor of the organization. Trading for Watson would be incredible, if he actually gets moved, but would cost a ton and other teams can put more attractive packages together than Washington can. Stafford will have plenty of interest too, but Washington should be able to compete. Ron Rivera said that fixing the QB position was the No. 1 priority this offseason. Stafford is the fix. Make it happen.