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Three moves the Detroit Lions must make after Stafford trade

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While most NFL fans had a sense it was coming, the Detroit Lions finally pulled the trigger on a trade involving long-time starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Stafford, who has spent his entire 12 year career with the Lions, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night for Jared Goff, a 2021 third round pick, and first round picks in each of the 2022 and 2023 NFL Drafts.

The Lions did about as well as they possibly could have in this trade. Everyone in the NFL knew that Detroit was going to jettison their veteran quarterback out of town. In theory, the team should’ve had little bargaining power. Instead, they received a former number one overall pick at quarterback, and several valuable draft assets.

What should the Lions do now? Here are three moves the team should consider making in the post Matthew Stafford era.

Re-sign Golladay

Since it looks like the Lions will be moving forward with Jared Goff, it would behoove them to try to put him in the best position to succeed.


It’s a little puzzling that Goff, who had one of the brightest offensive NFL minds in Sean McVay as his head coach, and who played with high caliber offensive talent in Los Angeles, could not do enough to earn the organization’s trust. One would think playing with Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods would’ve helped raise his level of play, but the fact of the matter is that Detroit can’t leave the cupboard bare for a quarterback that needs all the help he can get.

One of the biggest things the Lions can do to make sure Goff has weapons around him is to bring back talented young WR Kenny Golladay, who is an unrestricted free agent heading into the 2021 season.

Detroit could possibly franchise tag him, which according to reports would net him about $15 million next season. The receiver and his agent are likely looking for more compensation and more years than a franchise tag might offer, so it’ll be interesting to see how high the Lions are willing to go to retain his services. When healthy, Golladay has put up two 1,000 yard seasons so far in his career, and has averaged nearly 17 yards a reception in his 4 seasons.

Select a top wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft

In addition to bringing Golladay back, Detroit should also strongly consider adding another playmaker to its wide receiver group.

Having Golladay, promising tight end T.J. Hockenson, and another young cornerstone in the passing game will really help take the pressure off of their new quarterback.


The Lions have the 7th overall pick, and find themselves right on the borderline of having a chance to select one of the draft’s top three wide receivers.

University of Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith is widely regarded as the best at his position in this draft, and might get gobbled up by the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, or Philadelphia Eagles—all of whom are picking ahead of the Lions.

However, Detroit now has the capital to move up a few spots if they regard Smith that highly. They can also stand pat and hope that Smith’s teammate at Alabama, Jaylen Waddle, or LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase are available at 7.

Free Swift in 2021

It seems evident at this point in Jared Goff’s career that he’s not going to be the type of quarterback who can be relied on to drop back 50-60 times a game and win a game. While it would be great to upgrade the receiving talent in Detroit around him, the Lions’ offensive focus should center around getting running back DeAndre Swift more touches as the focal point of their attack.

Swift did receive 10 or more carries in 5 of his last 6 games in 2020, so it does appear as if the team, albeit with a brand new coaching stuff, will establish him more in 2021. The Lions hired former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn to be their offensive coordinator, and also brought on Duce Staley as an assistant head coach from the Philadelphia Eagles. Lynn and Staley were both running backs in the NFL, and their background should lend itself to a greater commitment to the run in 2021.

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