New York Daily News

Lions, Stafford agree to seek trade offers

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The Matthew Stafford-Detroit Lions marriage is coming to an amicable separation.

A league source told the Free Press on Saturday that Stafford approached the team after the season ended Jan. 3 and suggested a trade may be in the interest of both him and the Lions. The team has agreed to explore a deal.

Stafford has two years and $43 million remaining — great value in today’s quarterbac­k market — on his fiveyear, $135 million contract signed in 2017. He is due a $10 million bonus on the fifth day of the league year in March.

The Lions would carry $19 million in dead money on their salary cap in 2021, but a trade would yield a savings of $14 million in cap space and $20 million in cash. The Lions currently have about $12 million in cap space.

Quarterbac­k needy teams include New England, Indianapol­is, Washington and perhaps New Orleans, among others.

With the Lions set for a rebuild under a new regime after three straight last-place NFC North finishes, Stafford presumably is ready to move to a contender. He passed for 26 touchdowns and 10 intercepti­ons with a 96.3 QB rating in 2020 for the 5-11 Lions, playing through injury late in the season that seemed likely to bench him.

He missed the final eight games in 2019 after fracturing bones in his back for the second straight year. The Lions went 0-8 without Stafford in 2019 and finished 3-121. He made 136 consecutiv­e starts before his injury.

The Lions hired Dan Campbell as head coach Wednesday, and Brad Holmes as general manager last week, and face an overhaul, particular­ly along a defense that set franchise records for ineptitude in 2020.

Detroit has the No. 7 overall pick in April’s draft. After presumptiv­e No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence, other QBs potentiall­y in play include Ohio State’s Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Stafford, who turns 33 in February, was the Lions’ No. 1 overall pick out of Georgia in 2009, after an 0-16 season in 2008. With him at quarterbac­k, the Lions made the playoffs three times in 12 seasons — 2011, 2014 and 2016 — but lost road games in the wild-card round each time. (45-28 at New Orleans, 24-20 at Dallas, 26-6 at Seattle.) Before Stafford’s arrival, the Lions’ last playoff appearance was 1999.

The Lions have not won a playoff game since the 1991 season, losing nine straight postseason games, and it remains their lone postseason win since 1957. Only the Cincinnati Bengals have a longer playoff winless streak.

Stafford and his wife, Kelly, have four daughters. They put their palatial lakefront Bloomfield Hills house on the market early last year.

 ?? AP ?? Matthew Stafford’s days in Detroit appear to be coming to an end, and he has two team-friendly years left on his contract that make him an attractive trade target.
AP Matthew Stafford’s days in Detroit appear to be coming to an end, and he has two team-friendly years left on his contract that make him an attractive trade target.
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