Matthew Stafford only had one trade stipulation: No New England Patriots.
At least that is what a source from one of the NFL teams involved in the Stafford trade market who did not land the quarterback told NBC Sports Boston. The report says Stafford, who requested a trade from the Lions after the season ended and was dealt Saturday to the Rams, was willing to go anywhere but the Patriots.
Why? It’s anyone’s guess.
Did he not want to be measured against the legend of six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady? Did he not want to play for notoriously difficult coach Bill Belichick? Did he not want to play in the cold wea ther? Did he see the void of weapons and consider that situation no better than what he had with the Lions, where he failed to win a playoff game over 12 seasons.
Or did he not want a reunion with Matt Patricia, who was fired in November during his third season as Lions head coach and is now at Belichick’s side as a Patriots assistant?
Stafford was traded to the Rams for two first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Jared Goff, but Washington, the Panthers, 49ers, Colts and the Broncos all reportedly were involved. It is not known if the Patriots had any interest in Stafford as they move on from stopgap starter Cam Newton.
Stafford’s decision shows how differently the Patriots could be viewed by veteran players without the guarantee of competing for a Super Bowl. The Patriots will enter free agency with deep pockets.