The blockbuster trade that’s reportedly sending Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams and Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions was a surprise and there’s already a new twist.
According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, the New England Patriots were the one and only team on Stafford’s no-trade list. The Patriots were reported to be the frontrunners to land Stafford in a trade, but they, according to Curran, were the only team he didn’t want to play for, and the only team he wouldn’t accept as a trade destination.
We don’t know why Stafford wouldn’t want to go to the Pats, but we can deduce a few likely reasons.
The Matt Patricia-Bill Belichick connection
Stafford just finished three nightmarish seasons playing under former Lions head coach Matt Patricia, and he’s likely had his fill. Since Patricia is reportedly rejoining the Patriots to assist the coaching staff in a variety of areas, of course Stafford wanted to stay as far away from New England as possible. Patricia took a second-place team and rammed it so far into the ground that it practically reached the Earth’s molten core. There’s no way Stafford was thinking, “You know what I need? More coaching from Matt Patricia.”
Patricia might not be the only reason. He is part of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, so why would Stafford want to play for the guy who taught Patricia everything he knows? It’s true that Belichick is pretty much the only guy to have long-term success using the tough-as-nails, no-days-off Belichick coaching method, but getting that from the source probably isn’t more attractive than getting it secondhand from Patricia.
Patriots are rebuilding
Rebuilding is the nice way to say that the Patriots are kind of bad now. They lack depth all over the field, and despite Cam Newton’s iffy play at quarterback in 2020, the Pats didn’t surround him with talent that could elevate him. After three seasons in the basement of the standings, Stafford likely wanted to find a situation that’s better than what he dealt with in Detroit, not the same or worse.
And beyond that, Stafford would be attempting to fill Tom Brady’s enormous shoes in front of Patriots fans who are still coming to terms with the reality of their team’s position. He’s likely just going to be a bridge to whoever the Pats draft to be their next young quarterback. Who in their right mind would want to step into that?
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