For the better part of the last 11 years, Matthew Stafford has been the starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, over those 11 years, Stafford has yet to win a single playoff game.
Some people blame Stafford's lack of playoff wins squarely on him, while others believe the Lions signal-caller would have plenty of playoff wins if he had a solid team around him.
The hope is that in 2020, Stafford balls out, like he was doing before a broken back forced him to miss the final eight games of the 2019 season, and that the Lions finally break through and contend for a Super Bowl.
But what if Stafford plays well, as he has during most of his seasons in the NFL, but the Lions fail to win?
Well, according to Stafford's good friend Dan Orlovsky, if the Lions don't get the job done in 2020, Stafford could be gone.
“If they don’t win this year, no matter how he plays, he’s gone,” Orlovsky told me over the summer. “I believe that. He has never said anything — we’re great friends — but we don’t really talk about that. But I can sit here and say I get it. I understand it from both perspectives. I can get it from his perspective — ‘I want to get out, I want my good play to result in more wins.’ But I can understand it from the franchise’s perspective too, that at some point you have to say, ‘It just didn’t work. We’ve done this for a dozen years, and it just didn’t work. It didn’t happen.’”
Stafford remains under contract through 2022, and at an average of $27 million per year, he’s an outright bargain. Patrick Mahomes signed a new deal that will pay him $45 million annually. Just this week, Deshaun Watson got $39 million annually. Stafford, now 13th on the quarterback pay scale, is a talented passer on an affordable contract. That’s the second-most valuable commodity in the entire sport, behind only a talented passer on a rookie contract. You don’t usually see teams part with guys like that.
Then again, the Ford family has already said they need to see dramatic improvement this season. They said they want to see a playoff contender, an ambiguous decree, and perhaps intentionally so. But with a seventh playoff spot now available, there’s no reason this team can’t make a run at the postseason. If they don’t, a regime change may be in order. And if that happens, there’s no telling what will happen to anyone, Matthew Stafford included.
Nation, do you think the Lions will be a winning team in 2020? If they are not, do you think Stafford will be playing elsewhere in 2021?