There will be a vastly different look to the Detroit Lions in 2021.
There’s a new general manager in Brad Holmes and there will be a new head coach, who’s expected to be Dan Campbell. So one of the looming questions is whether there will be a different look at quarterback or if longtime franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford will return.
In his introductory press conference Tuesday, Holmes fielded a question on Stafford’s future and ultimately offered no conclusions as he complimented Stafford while making it known he would have to gauge all of the Lions’ personnel.
“Matthew, great player. And what you really appreciate is, I think the talent level is easy to see, but you really appreciate how intangibles show on film, how urgent he plays, how competitive he is, the toughness that he shows,” Holmes said Tuesday. “But it is my job to evaluate the entire roster, and through that process, I have not had any discussions with Matt or any players for that matter. So I just want to be fair to the process and make sure that we evaluate that thoroughly, but obviously, Matt, very good football player.”
The Lions went 5-11 in 2020 for a third-straight losing campaign, bringing into question if Stafford wanted to be part of another rebuild and if a rebuild will work best with the 32-year-old, 12-year veteran under center.
Long regarded for his toughness, Stafford finished out the season with rib, ankle and thumb injuries. He wrapped up the year with 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In 2021, Stafford is set to earn a base salary of $9.5 million, while carrying a cap hit of $33 million and a dead cap value of $19 million, per Spotrac.
Going forward, the question for the Lions is if Stafford, considering his age and wear and tear, is the QB they want and need to lead the franchise into a(nother) new era. The question for Stafford is if he wants to move on to possibly be the final piece for a team on the verge of contending and in need of a quarterback.
The 2009 No. 1 overall pick’s 45,109 yards and 282 touchdowns are franchise bests by a large margin, but has been a part of just four winning seasons, having become an overlooked and underrated presence on a losing franchise.
If nothing less on Tuesday, Holmes’ comments made it known that everyone on the team is up for evaluation as the new-look Lions begin to take shape.