According to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, the Indianapolis Colts will trade the team’s first round pick #21 for Detroit Lions franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford in his updated 2021 NFL Mock Draft:
Kwity Paye · Edge rusher
PROJECTED TRADE WITH INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
School: Michigan | Year: Senior
I believe the Colts are the most likely landing spot for Matthew Stafford in a trade, so they make the move to get a replacement for Philip Rivers in this scenario. The Lions got their QB at No. 7 overall, but they still need to address the pass rush. Paye is one of the more dynamic athletes in the draft.
Jeremiah actually had the Colts selecting Michigan edge Kwity Paye in his prior mock draft version (before Stafford and the Lions mutually agreed to part ways), but it looks like Paye will be selected by Detroit in such a trade scenario now.
In 2020, Stafford completed 339 of 528 pass attempts (64.2%) for 4,084 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a passer rating of 96.3 during all 16 starts.
The former #1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Georgia has completed 3,898 of 6,224 pass attempts (62.6%) for 45,109 passing yards, 282 touchdowns, and 144 interceptions during 12 NFL seasons (165 career starts).
In Lions’ all-time franchise history, Stafford ranks first in completions (3,898), first in passing yards (45,109), and first in touchdowns (282) respectively.
Despite consistently not have played with a strong supporting cast in Detroit—featuring a lack of an offensive line, running game, and defense, Stafford has continued to put up pretty good starting NFL quarterback numbers.
Playing behind the Colts strong offensive line, complemented by running back Jonathan Taylor, and Indy’s borderline elite defense, Stafford is someone who could really benefit from a much needed change of scenery—especially playing in quarterback friendly Colts head coach Frank Reich’s offense.
While the Colts would lose a little in accuracy, Stafford would present a much more dynamic starting quarterback option compared to his retired predecessor Philip Rivers—as the soon-to-be 33 year old Lions quarterback features a huge arm and improved mobility.
The Colts pass protection almost had to be perfect with Rivers, with his inability to escape pocket pressure and create plays under duress (instead using anticipation to deliver passes before the pass rushers got close). The Indy offense was also limited with their inability to take more calculated shots downfield given Rivers’ diminished arm strength in the twilight of his playing career.
Having Stafford theoretically starting behind center would also provide the Colts much more opportunities to utilize play-action (with his ability to move a bit) and keep opposing defenses honest or suffer many ‘daggers’ through the air.
Showcasing his live arm, Stafford has the ability to make the handful of ‘it’ throws that the NFL’s truly elite quarterbacks can throughout a game—fitting a football through an incredibly tight window or making an insanely athletic throw on the move under pressure. Those plays add up and oftentimes can be the difference between winning and losing over the course of a football game.
Stafford’s also incredibly tough—having battled through torn rib cartilage, a broken thumb, a broken back, and a separated shoulder respectively. At one point in his career, Stafford had made 136 consecutive starts (2010-2019), which is the 7th longest streak for a quarterback in NFL history.
In my humble option, Stafford potentially provides the Colts a much greater chance to make a deep playoff push than Rivers in January. While the Colts playoff ceiling was probably winning a playoff game with Rivers, Stafford could give the Colts the opportunity to at least make an AFC Championship Game—maybe even compete for a Super Bowl.
His current Lions contract also happens to very team friendly for the acquiring NFL team, and the Colts have a projected $64.9M of cap space this offseason to more than absorb it:
Matthew Stafford contract notes:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 23, 2021
* Currently signed through 2022
* Due base salaries of $9.5M in 2021 and $12.5M in 2022
* Has $10M roster bonuses and $500K workout bonuses in each year
* Cap hits for the acquiring team would be $20M in 2021 and $23M in 2022
Just short of his 33rd birthday, Stafford figures to have at least a handful of highly productive seasons left as a very good starting NFL quarterback—at times, maybe even an elite one with the Colts.
Trading for Stafford makes a whole lot of sense for the Colts whether it’s trading the 21st overall pick, two second round picks, etc., because it’s a ‘built to win now,’ well-rounded Indianapolis squad that may be a quarterback upgrade and a few pieces short of seriously competing for a Super Bowl Championship in 2021 and for the foreseeable future.