Matthew Stafford Responds to Trade Rumors: 'I Love Being a Detroit Lion'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2020

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is seen during warm ups against the Green Bay Packers prior to an NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Matthew Stafford's status as the Detroit Lions' franchise quarterback is sitting on a precarious perch after he was limited to eight games last season because of a debilitating back injury.  

That said, Stafford remains as committed as ever to being the Lions' franchise quarterback. 

"I'm here. I want to be here," Stafford told Chris Burke of The Athletic. "I love being a Detroit Lion, love leading this team. All that kinda stuff is just out there to be out there. ... As far as the way I feel about my body, I feel great. I'm not worried about going out there and playing. If we could put the pads on and go out there and play, I would do it. I think my teammates know. The guys that have been with me, seen me throw it around, I'm as good as I've been physically the last couple of years."

The Lions have both financial and competitive reasons to not move on from Stafford just yet. They would have had to pay a dead-cap charge of $32 million to trade or release Stafford against a $21.3 million cap hit; essentially they would be paying $10.7 million extra to make him go away.

That charge drops to $19 million in 2021 and $6 million in 2022. The organization's plan appears, for now, to be retaining Stafford and slotting Chase Daniel into the backup slot for the foreseeable future. Daniel signed a three-year contract with Detroit this offseason.

Coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn also enter 2020 with perhaps the hottest seats of any duo in football. Lions ownership released a statement in December explaining their decision to retain Patricia and Quinn, essentially putting them on the spot for next season. 

Stafford performing at a Pro Bowl level is the best chance Patricia and Quinn have to stick around beyond 2020.

If he struggles with injuries again next season, Stafford, Patricia and Quinn may all find themselves with walking papers a year from now.