The Denver Broncos were not very aggressive in their pursuit of Matthew Stafford, apparently. According to Albert Breer’s MMQB report for SI on Monday, the Broncos were willing to send the ninth overall pick to the Lions in exchange for Stafford, but they also wanted Detroit’s second round pick back in return. Essentially, Denver expected that a pick swap from 41 to nine might have been enough to land the veteran QB who would have certainly been a massive upgrade over Drew Lock.
Inevitably, that bid lost out to the LA Rams, who sent Jared Goff, a 2021 third, and first round picks in 2022 and 2023 for Stafford.
That will sound like trade compensation overkill to some but:
- The Rams weren’t beating a pick swap, they had to beat out Carolina’s offer of pick eight, a fifth rounder, and Teddy Bridgewater. It was also reported that Washington offered pick 19, a third rounder, and a player.
- Two future first round picks, which could end up as 32 and 32, may never be as valuable as say, Kyle Pitts or Ja’Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith or Trey Lance or Penei Sewell or whichever players end up going eighth or ninth this year. If the Lions had elected to take Carolina’s offer over LA’s offer, I wouldn’t have gone so far as to simplify it down to “this other offer has an extra first round pick, therefore it is automatically better.” The Lions, for example, could have easily taken the Panthers’ offer and then traded up to three with the Miami Dolphins and been in position, like the 49ers now are, to take a quarterback of the future. They’re still in position to take a quarterback at seven.
The Broncos and Panthers may have been lucky to have their Stafford offers fall short, it’s too early to tell, but I think what is undeniable is that the Rams are in a much better position than either of them as of today.
Denver went 5-11 last season with Lock, ranking 28th in points, 26th in passing yards, 32nd in giveaways, 32nd in interceptions, and 25th in net yards per pass attempt. While Lock might still appear to be some sort of developmental project, at 24 he is older than Sam Darnold, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and Daniel Jones. He had almost an identical season to Carson Wentz (both had 16 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a 57.3% completion percentage on nearly the same number of attempts) and the Eagles gave up on Wentz.
The Broncos have an elite tackle in Garrett Bolles and Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, and Noah Fant as weapons, but nobody to distribute the ball to them. Ultimately, the Stafford consolation prize will probably be Jimmy Garoppolo, Bridgewater, or another Wentz-like castoff that a team doesn’t believe in. The draft alternatives of Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance offer little optimism to teams like Denver and Carolina, at least in the short term.
The Panthers eventually traded second and fourth round picks in 2022, plus a sixth rounder in 2021, for Sam Darnold. Carolina’s essentially trading one late first round pick for a quarterback who by all accounts has been worse than Drew Lock over the last two years.
At the cost of two late firsts that wouldn’t have had an impact until 2022 and 2023 at the earliest, plus a third rounder, the Rams were able to make that jump up from a “Lock” or “Bridgewater” type quarterback into Stafford and some relief from Goff’s contract in those future seasons.