When Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions agreed to mutually part ways, some fans and analysts listed the New England Patriots as a top suitor due to Cam Newton only playing on a one-year contract. However, the Patriots were not among Stafford's favored destinations. He reportedly asked for a trade to "anywhere but New England."
Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston spoke to a source from a team heavily involved in the trade negotiations and learned about Stafford's "request." This particular franchise did not successfully bring Stafford to town due to the Rams sending over a massive package involving draft picks and quarterback Jared Goff. The source did not detail exactly why the former No. 1 overall pick nixed a trade to New England, but Curran listed the lack of viable tight ends and wide receivers as a primary reason.
"He wanted no part of Matt Patricia," one NFL analyst commented after reading Curran's report. Many others chimed in and said that the former Lions head coach had singlehandedly tanked the trade after rejoining Bill Belichick's staff in New England. There were so many people blaming Patricia for Stafford shutting down a potential trade that his name began trending on Sunday afternoon.
"There are enough former Patriots in Detroit who would have been able to advise Stafford on the vibe here," Curran wrote in his article, only further fueling the belief that the quarterback wanted to avoid his former coach. "Also, Stafford just lived through the Matt Patricia era in Detroit. The former Patriots defensive coordinator ran a .500 franchise under Jim Caldwell onto the rocks in less than three seasons. Patricia has rejoined the Patriots staff this offseason. Probably not a selling point."
Another potential issue exists in that New England is rebuilding. The team has to find new weapons on offense after two straight seasons of struggles. Additionally, there are questions about the defense that struggled to shut down the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. Stafford wanted to leave Detroit to avoid a rebuilding season, and New England sits in a similar situation.
Several teams offered up first-round picks in exchange for Stafford's services, but the Rams offered up the most. The LA-based franchise sent over Goff, a first-round pick in 2022, a first-round pick in 2023, and a third-round pick in 2021. The Lions made the deal work by agreeing to take on Goff's contract that pays him $33.5 million annually.