Matt Patricia: Lions Aim to 'Build Around' Matthew Stafford Despite Trade Rumors

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia talks with quarterback Matthew Stafford before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia said Wednesday there are no plans to move quarterback Matthew Stafford despite trade rumors leading up to the 2020 NFL season. 

Patricia was asked about the situation during an appearance on the NFL Network's Good Morning Football (via Chris Burke of The Athletic):

"One of the main reasons I came to the Lions was for Matthew Stafford. I have the utmost respect for him as a player. He's a phenomenal teammate, great football mind, he loves to talk the game. ...

"I do understand when coaches go into a franchise, they're trying to redo everything there, maybe go with a younger or less expensive quarterback. ... But in our case here, I'm trying to do the best I can to build around Matt Stafford. I think that's the most important thing."

In February, Michael Silver of the NFL Network reported there were general managers and coaches around the league who believed "Stafford is the one who wants the Lions to move him."

Patricia referred to the initial speculation as "comical" and the quarterback's wife, Kelly Stafford, took to social media to downplay the idea of leaving Detroit:

Dave Birkett @davebirkett

Matthew Stafford’s wife on the rumors he wants a trade, presumably https://t.co/nHtt8XdcQH

Stafford was putting up MVP-level numbers last season before suffering a season-ending thoracic spine injury. He'd completed 64.3 percent of his throws for 2,499 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions through eight games.

The Lions as a whole couldn't match his performance, however, as they were 3-4-1 at the season's midway point and lost all eight games after their franchise signal-caller went down to finish 3-12-1.

Detroit's commitment to Stafford was on display in the 2020 draft. Every quarterback other than LSU's Joe Burrow was available when it picked at No. 3 overall, but the front office opted for cornerback Jeff Okudah over Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and the other QBs.

If the Lions were ready to move in a new direction at the position, or if they were concerned the first overall pick in the 2009 draft wanted out, that was their chance to take a high-level prospect.

Instead, Detroit used two of its first three picks on defense and bulked up the offensive line in the middle rounds following an active free-agent period. The other marquee draftee was running back D'Andre Swift with the team's second-round selection.

It set the stage for a potential bounce-back season if Stafford is back to full strength. The bigger goal is making it beyond the wild-card round of the playoffs for the first time since 1991.