Quinn Rejects Idea Of Trading Stafford, Says QB Needs More Help: "It's Not His Fault"

The Lions GM is standing behind the team's franchise quarterback.

Will Burchfield
January 04, 2019 - 11:08 am

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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To little surprise, the first question asked of Lions general manager Bob Quinn at his season-ending press conference on Friday morning concerned Matthew Stafford. And the second. And the third, fourth and fifth. And, just to round things off, the last. 

It was a down year for the Lions franchise quarterback, but the Lions franchise quarterback is exactly what he'll continue to be. 

"No," Bob Quinn said when asked about the possibility of a trade. "Matthew Stafford's our quarterback." 

In the first year of the five-year, $135 million extension he signed in 2017, Stafford had one of the worst full seasons of his career. The Lions finished 6-10. But Quinn hasn't lost faith in Stafford, far from it. Reciting a familiar refrain, the GM believes Stafford needs more talent around him. 

"Listen, this guy is a really talented player. Myself and the coaches need to be putting him in better situations to allow him to use his skill set," Quinn said. "Matt’s extremely tough, he’s extremely diligent in his work ethic, he sets a great example for all of our players and really all of our staff of how to go about his job. ...

"We need to do a better job of putting better players around him and scheming things up better to use his talent."

The notion of trading Stafford, juicy though it may seem, is unfeasible given his contract. The Lions would incur a massive cap hit if they tried to do so in the next two years. For better or worse, they're tied to Stafford for the foreseeable future. To Quinn, the contract is water under the bridge. 

"His contract is what it is. We talked about that a couple years aho when we signed it, so I think that’s really a non factor," he said.

As for holding Stafford accountable after yet another lost season, Quinn plans to leave that to No. 9 himself. 

 "To hold him accountable, I think Matthew Stafford holds himself accountable at a very high level," said Quinn. "I think Matthew’s kind of a reserved guy with (the media). I think in the locker room, in the meeting rooms, on the practice field, this guys holds himself to a very, very high standard. And that resonates with his teammates, that resonates with the staff.

"Listen, we didn’t win enough games, Matthew didn’t have as great of stats as he normally does, and we’re going to improve that in the offseason." 

Part of Stafford's struggles this season were no doubt due to injuries on the offense. The trade of Golden Tate had a big impact as well. By the end of the year, Stafford was playing with several second- and third-string players, while playing through a back injury himself. 

The Lions have several holes they need to address on both sides of the ball, holes that were responsible for the team's disappointing season. In Quinn's eyes, the quarterback position is very low on that list. 

"It’s not just Matthew Stafford. That’s not what this is. We have 53 players on the team every week, so just because he's the quarterback and he touches the ball every play on offense doesn’t mean he gets all the blame. The blame can be passed around. It starts with me, it starts with the coaches, it starts with everybody on the team. It’s not his fault." 

That last thought can be debated. More so than in years past, maybe more so than ever, the Lions' shortcomings this year fall on Stafford's shoulders. What can't be debated, at least until next year, is that No. 9 is here to stay. 

"Matthew Stafford’s our quarterback. He will be our quarterback," Quinn said. 

Asked if he believes the Lions can win a Super Bowl with Stafford as their QB, Quinn didn't waver. 

"I do," he said. "I do, yes."