Saturday night, the Los Angeles Rams pulled off a trade to acquire Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The news caught many by surprise, considering that LA gave up multiple first-round picks and former No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. Others expected the trade due to the events that preceded it.
While the trade news is more recent, there were rumblings about a potential deal back in February 2020. There were questions about whether the team would move on from the former No. 1 overall pick despite having him under contract through the 2022 season. The discussions continued among the fanbase members during a 2020 season in which Stafford played through multiple ailments but still started all 16 games.
Articles surfaced in November 2020 as the end of the season approached, examining how the Lions could move on from Stafford after capturing nearly every passing record in franchise history. There were issues at the time due to a $59 million cap hit that would potentially limit the team and its ability to bring free agents to town.
The conversation changed, however, in late November. The Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, marking a new era. These changes in the front office meant that a new duo would enter the picture, likely to pursue a change at the quarterback position.
For Stafford, Patricia and Quinn's firings meant that he would have to take part in yet another rebuild. Since landing with the Lions in 2009, Stafford has played for three full-time coaches — Patricia, Jim Schwartz and Jim Caldwell — and one interim coach in Darrell Bevell. Would he really want to play for another coach in a new offensive system after turning 33 in February?
The news of a potential change fully reached a boiling point the week of the conference championship games. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that the two sides began discussing a possible trade after Dan Campbell's hiring as head coach and Brad Holmes as GM. Stafford expressed the desire for a "fresh start" and said that it was time to move on amid another restart within the building. The team officials reportedly agreed with the franchise QB.
Questions swirled for a week about Stafford's future with the Lions and where he would go. NFL insider Ian Rapoport then reported that the team would make a move before Super Bowl LV. Despite receiving interest from "seven or eight teams," the Lions wasted no time and agreed with the Rams.
One interesting factor that helped the Rams bring Stafford to town was revealed on Sunday morning. Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager spoke to Rams coach Sean McVay, who said that he and his new quarterback have been friendly "for some time" due to an unlikely connection. One of McVay's friends from high school, Buffalo Bills wide receiver coach Chad Hall, also happens to be Kelly Stafford's brother.