Patricia Wants To Build Around Stafford – Not 'Younger, Less Expensive' QB

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By 97.1 The Ticket
Here we are again, discussing Matthew Stafford and whether he remains the Lions' franchise quarterback. The conversation resurfaced Wednesday morning when Matt Patricia appeared on NFL Network's Good Morning Football.

Given Detroit's foundering investment in Stafford, Patricia was asked whether it would appeal to the organization to build around a younger, cheaper quarterback. Half of the NFL's division winners last season were led by quarterbacks on their rookie contracts, including the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes. 

The answer: Nope. 

"I do understand when coaches go into franchises, they’re trying to redo everything there and maybe go with a younger or less expensive quarterback," Patricia said. "But in our case here, I’m trying to do the best I can to build around Matt Stafford. I think that’s the most important thing. Try to help him out, obviously with the offensive line in front of him, get a little bit of a run game, get some skill players out there and play better defense and try to do everything we can to have a complementary football team with him as our leader.

"I get really excited to coach him and really fired up to be around him, so I’m not changing." 

Stafford, 32, is signed through 2022 with an average cap hit of about $27 million. Since his five-year, $135 million extension kicked in two years ago, the Lions are 9-22-1. Of course, Stafford isn't the first to blame for that, and eight of those losses came when he was sidelined last season. 

Yes, the losing goes back further than that. The Lions have sunk over $200 million in Stafford since they drafted him first overall in 2009 and have a record of 74-101-1 to show for it. But let's all say it it together: Stafford isn't the first to blame. Not even close. 

Patricia acknowledged as much in referencing the need to 'help him out.' And the Lions went out this offseason and put that plan in motion -- well, put it back in motion -- by spending $45 million on right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, then spending five of their first seven draft picks on offensive players, including running back D'Andre Swift and guards Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg. 

We'll see in 2020 if it finally pays off. But make no mistake, the Lions are committed to Stafford, as long as Patricia and Bob Quinn are calling the shots. 

"One of the main reasons I came to the Lions was for Matthew Stafford," Patricia said, echoing a sentiment he's shared for the past three years. "I have the utmost respect for him as a player. He’s a phenomenal teammate, he’s a great football mind, he loves to talk the game. I just get fired up when I get a chance to (sit) with him and go over things and talk about strategy, players and the game. For me, it’s kind of a crazy conversation when (the trade rumors) come up."