The case for keeping Matthew Stafford

One of the most talked about subjects since the firing of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has been if the Detroit Lions should still stick with Matthew Stafford as their starting QB for the future.

After the firings of Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew, the questions surrounding Stafford seemed to be at an all-time high after NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Stafford’s future with the franchise was very much in doubt.

But in recent days, Stafford has received some encouraging comments, from both current offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and from coaches around the league.

Cooter praised Stafford’s high football IQ, over a week after Rapoport reported that Lombardi diminished it.

“I think his IQ’s higher than a lot of us in here, including myself,” Cooter said. “So he’s a really smart guy, and he’s doing exactly what we ask on a lot of the things.”

ESPN’s Chris Mortenson talked with seven NFL head coaches and personnel men, with a unanimous agreement on what Stafford means to the Lions.

“The speculation on Stafford is almost laughable, except nobody really knows who will be calling the shots for the Lions when they restructure their organization. In a small sample survey of seven NFL coaches and personnel men, they were unanimous that the Lions would be foolish to part with Stafford.”

While nobody can be sure yet, and how the rest of the season plays out will hold huge significance on his future with the team, it appears the best plan for both the Lions and Stafford is to keep him on board.

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Some fans may not be sold on Stafford as a QB that can potentially lead Detroit to a Super Bowl, but they need to realize that bringing him back doesn’t necessarily mean the organization is buying in on Stafford completely.

Bringing back Stafford doesn’t prevent Detroit from selecting a top QB in next year’s NFL Draft. The Lions could still pick QBs Jared Goff or Connor Cook with a top pick and let them learn under Stafford for a year or two while they adjust to the NFL. Or, if Goff or Cook impresses, they could still trade Stafford to a QB needy team, and probably receive a haul of picks in return.

Letting Stafford walk means letting an asset go for nothing. Even if you don’t believe in Stafford, you have to recognize that he has value, to the Lions and to other teams. The smart move is to keep him on the roster heading into next season, and then the tougher decisions can begin.

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