Broncos: What Matt Stafford trade involvement means for Drew Lock

Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Denver Broncos, Drew Lock, 2021 NFL Draft
Denver Broncos QB #3 Drew Lock. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos called but ultimately didn’t wind up acquiring veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford in a trade.

The mere fact that they called and even had specific proposals on the table with the Detroit Lions has sent many in Broncos Country into a frenzy.

If the Broncos were in pursuit of Stafford, what does it mean for the remainder of the 2021 offseason as far as the quarterback position is concerned?

Some see the Broncos’ interest in Stafford as a clear sign that the team is ready to move on from Drew Lock. Others heard George Paton say at his introductory press conference that he would be “in every deal” while being aggressive but not reckless, and see it as due diligence.

In reality, what does the Broncos’ pursuit of Stafford really mean for all involved? What does it mean for Lock?

Let’s examine all of the facts and reports, and draw conclusions based on that.

What does the Broncos’ pursuit of Matthew Stafford mean for Drew Lock?

Stafford was pre-destined for the Los Angeles Rams

It is important to know this. Let me explain.

When the news broke that the Lions would be trading Stafford and that the two parties had mutually agreed to part ways, everyone started putting together their lists of teams that made sense.

The Denver Broncos were one, for obvious reasons.

There is no doubt that Stafford — based on what we see and know about him — would be an upgrade over Drew Lock in terms of his consistency at the position right now, and the former number one overall pick competed for more than a decade against Broncos GM George Paton, who spent the last 14 years with the Minnesota Vikings, so there is a familiarity there (at least, to a degree).

It made sense for the Broncos to inquire about Stafford and it made sense for Stafford to have the Broncos high on his preferred list of teams to be traded to with their improved offensive line, the plethora of offensive skill talent, and the defensive expertise of Vic Fangio at head coach.

But were the Broncos ever really contenders to acquire him? Did Stafford’s “list” of teams he preferred to be traded to even exceed one?

Here is the documented and reported evidence of Denver’s involvement:

If the Denver Broncos were willing to do a pick swap with the Lions, that could have been something like Denver’s 9th pick for Detroit’s 41st pick and Stafford, or something similar to that, but if the value was equivalent to a late-first as Albert Breer reported, the Broncos might not have included their 2021 first-round selection at all. Perhaps they offered their 40th pick and a 2022 second-round pick.

Though we don’t know the exact details of the Broncos’ trade offer, we know that they “weren’t playing in the neighborhood” of what it would have taken to get Stafford from Detroit.

Other teams, however, were playing it that way.

The Washington Football Team (19th pick) and Carolina Panthers (8th pick) both offered their 2021 first-round picks and more to Detroit, per Breer’s report. The Indianapolis Colts reportedly offered the 21st overall selection. Those teams made Detroit offers they probably shouldn’t have refused.

Why would the Lions not take those deals, which seem better than what they got from the Rams (first-round picks in 2022, 2023; third-round pick in 2021, QB Jared Goff)?

The reason is likely not singular, but ultimately it comes down to — as many deals in the NFL do — relationships. The Detroit Lions hired Ray Farmer as their general manager a few weeks ago, and you’ll never guess where he was working before he was hired by Detroit.

That’s right — with the Los Angeles Rams.

There is no question that Stafford wanted to play with Sean McVay, and the Rams were motivated to make it happen as McVay reciprocated that interest. The Lions likely were able to get additional capital from the Rams because of the interest from other teams, but does anyone really think Detroit was trading Stafford anywhere else given the relationships in the front offices of both clubs combined with Stafford’s desire to be in Los Angeles?

The Broncos — or any other team — would have had to throw Detroit an offer that was absolutely ridiculous to steer them away from trading Stafford to the Rams.