According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (subscription), Detroit Lions franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, who’s expected to be traded this offseason—after he and the Lions mutually agreed to part ways, ‘most definitely has his eyes on’ the Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback opening per Fowler’s sources:
General manager Chris Ballard has patiently built a winner over the past few years. The roster is ready to contend now. The Colts did a one-year deal with Philip Rivers last offseason knowing they could attack this quarterback window now. They have the line to protect Stafford and intriguing playmakers to bolster the passing game.
This is a spot Stafford most definitely has his eyes on, from what I’m hearing. And NFL execs starting telegraphing this one last month.
“Makes a lot of sense, which is why the Colts will really look into making this work,” an NFC exec said.
The former #1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft is coming off another pretty good passing season for the Lions in which he 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 soon-to-be 33 year old quarterback 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).
As the Lions all-time leading franchise passer, Stafford ranks first in completions (3,898), first in passing yards (45,109), and first in touchdowns (282) respectively.
At 6’3”, 220 pounds, and blessed with a big arm and improved mobility over his theoretical Colts retired predecessor, veteran Philip Rivers, Stafford could provide Indianapolis a much more dynamic starting quarterback upgrade—even at the loss of some of Rivers’ accuracy.
He would open up the Colts ability to call play-action passes and take more calculated deep shots downfield—backed by a strong Indy offensive line and power rushing attack.
He also has the live arm to make the elite ‘it’ throws that the truly greats can during the course of a football game—fitting the football through an incredibly tight window or executing an insanely athletic throw on the move—that can be the difference between ultimately winning and losing on NFL Sundays.
It’s well-documented that Stafford never consistently had a strong supporting cast in Detroit—be it a running game, offensive line, or defense. He would see an improvement in all three facets with the Colts—while playing in head coach Frank Reich’s quarterback friendly offense—which could mean a potential uptick in production.
The cost presumably won’t be cheap—with some other quarterback NFL needy teams presenting competition for Stafford in the open marketplace. However, for a Colts team built to win now, his arrival could immediately transform them into a serious AFC Contender again—along with the addition of a few other impact pieces.
The difference between Stafford and Rivers though last offseason, is that Stafford figures to have at least a handful of highly productive seasons left—as he’s just 1 year, 7 months, and 5 days older than former Colts franchise star Andrew Luck. He’s more than just a veteran stopgap—as Rivers was firmly in the twilight of his playing career for the Colts.
A big offseason trade for Stafford by the Colts just seems like a nearly perfect pairing timing-wise right now. It’s just a matter of the exorbitant draft capital cost to acquire him.