NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Matthew Stafford's era in Detroit is over as the Lions QB has requested a fresh start. Pelissero listed six teams that have significant QB questions entering 2021. Most pundits on Twitter are tying the 49ers to Stafford, but Pelissero is rarely, if ever, wrong, so perhaps he knows something.
Stafford will turn 33 this February, and he did miss eight games during 2019. While he was banged up during 2020, he started every game. Outside of 2019, the last time Stafford missed a start was in 2010.
Stafford will have suitors. Indianapolis. Washington, whose new GM drafted Stafford in Detriot. New Orleans. Carolina. Denver. Pittsburgh. All of those teams could use Stafford’s services.
After the season, Kyle Shanahan said the Niners would be open to upgrading at the quarterback position. Stafford is an upgrade. The question is, how much would Stafford cost in draft capital?
Shanahan also said that he wanted to build through the draft. The 49ers have developed some high-quality players in recent years. They’ve also added plenty of depth through the draft. Losing multiple picks takes away from adding depth.
You’re not getting Stafford without giving up a first-round pick. That’s where the conversation begins. Carson Palmer was traded at age 32 to the Raiders for a first-round pick and a second-round pick. Stafford’s value could be a touch higher given the season he’s coming off, and there are so many suitors that his price just got driven up even more.
If you’re John Lynch and Shanahan and feel like Stafford is an upgrade at quarterback, where do you draw the line as far as compensation goes? The additional comp picks after the third round come in handy all of a sudden. Stafford will be pricey, but he’s far more affordable than Deshaun Watson.
Stafford’s cap hit in 2021 is $7 million cheaper than Jimmy Garoppolo’s, but that’s not counting Jimmy’s $2.8 million in dead money. Looking at Stafford’s contract, San Francisco would save roughly $4.1 million going from Garoppolo to Stafford in 2021. If you can upgrade and save money, then this would be a no-brainer for the organization.
The 49ers need all of the cap space they can get, and they might be forced to restructure Garoppolo’s deal if they decide to stick with him Jimmy G. The team could also restructure Stafford’s deal once he’s acquired. The point is, no matter who is under center when it comes down to it, San Francisco can find ways to create cap space.
The Palmer trade gives us an idea, but the league could be so much higher on Stafford, and in a quarterback hungry league where multiple potential playoff teams need one, it’s impossible to predict what Stafford would cost in a trade. This year’s first and second gets you in the door. We’ll see if Lynch is willing to offer anything more or if he feels like the team would be better off with Garoppolo and the draft picks.