The NFL’s quarterback market projects to be an active one this offseason, and the first big trade of the year already took place over the weekend. The Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams exchanged starting quarterbacks on Saturday, with Matthew Stafford headed to L.A. and Jared Goff — plus three total draft picks — being sent to Michigan in return.
The Rams were not the only team interested in obtaining Stafford’s services, though, with six additional teams reportedly in the running. Among them were the New England Patriots, who did call the Lions about the former first overall draft selection but obviously did not bring him aboard.
However, if there was one destination the 32-year-old categorically ruled out it was the Patriots: according to a report by Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston, Stafford let the Lions know that “they could send him anywhere but New England.”
While it is impossible to assess why he would feel that way from afar, there are some factors that certainly could have played into his decision to tell the Lions eliminate the Patriots from the list of potential trade partners. For one, New England has to be considered one of the least desirable destinations in the league right now for a quarterback — despite the team’s well-established coaching staff.
The Patriots’ skill position talent, after all, is arguably the worst in the NFL right now while blue-chip players such as offensive linemen Joe Thuney and David Andrews as well as running back James White are all headed for unrestricted free agency. The organization is scheduled to have plenty of salary cap space available this year, but it cannot be used to upgrade the supporting cast before the start of free agency in mid-March.
Then, there is the Matt Patricia factor: New England recently re-hired its former defensive coordinator in an assistant role after he was fired by no other club than the Lions. Patricia and Stafford worked together for almost three seasons, with the team struggling each year under its new head coach.
Other factors might have been in play as well from either a professional or personal point of view — the unfriendly New England weather, the Patriots’ “No Days Off!” mentality, the burden of having to fill shoes previously worn by the greatest quarterback of all time — but the gist remains: for one reason or another, Stafford did not want to come to New England and instead will wear the Rams’ blue and gold moving forward.
The Patriots, however, were reportedly ready to part with some assets in order to get Stafford aboard. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the team “was willing to package a second-rounder with a player to get Stafford.”
While the player in question may have changed the overall value of the package, it is unlikely it would have come close to what Los Angeles eventually paid for Stafford’s services: the Rams did not just send Jared Goff to Detroit, but also a third-round draft pick this year as well as first-round selections in 2022 and 2023.