When Matthew Stafford requested a trade out of Detroit, the Indianapolis Colts were widely considered the front runners to acquire his services, and understandably so as both parties just seemed like a perfect match.
Not only could the Colts offer Stafford something the Lions couldn’t — like front office stability, a robust offensive line, and an elite defense — but the former No. 1 overall pick would give Indy something they were desperate for in return: elite quarterback play that will presumably help them achieve their ultimate goal.
When the dust settled, however, the Rams agreed to a deal for Stafford in a package headlined by Jared Goff and two first-round draft picks. The aftermath has featured a slew of conflicting reports in terms of what the Colts offered Detroit (if anything) for Stafford. Given how seemingly every fan is traumatized that Indy came up short in the sweepstakes, let’s attempt to make sense of it all.
It still isn’t clear what the Colts offered the Lions for Matthew Stafford
Peter King of NBC Sports disclosed that the Colts wouldn’t unload anything more than their first-round selection in 2021, citing last year’s trade for DeForest Buckner as reasoning for Ballard supposedly wanting to keep hold of his draft picks.
Then you have Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, who reported that Indy never offered their 2021 first-rounder, but proposed a package of picks and players instead. It sounds bizarre, but these reports should almost ease the minds of fans, because they suggest that Ballard is up to his old tricks: working in the shadows without revealing too much information about his plans.
That isn’t to say we wouldn’t have loved if the Colts acquired Stafford, but let’s put some context on the situation. Trading two first-rounders (essentially three when you remember that Goff was the first overall pick in 2016) plus a third-rounder for a soon-to-be 33-year-old quarterback is an absolutely massive haul.
It also paints the Rams into a corner in that they have to win a ring at some point over the next couple of years, or else the deal will be viewed as a colossal failure. Taking all of that into consideration, it’s understandable why Ballard didn’t push all of his chips to the center of the table.
Fans in Indianapolis are justified being flustered over not getting Stafford, but you’d be hard-pressed to deny that the Rams are taking a great risk by mortgaging their future — in terms of both draft picks and salary cap space — with this trade.
Ballard is fully aware that the Colts need a quarterback, and considering how much he’s transformed the roster in just three years at the helm, fans should probably trust that he knows how to work a market. The conflicting reports about Stafford prove that.