DETROIT – Brad Holmes took over as the general manager of the Detroit Lions just two weeks ago, but he’s already made the single biggest move that will likely define his tenure with the organization.
ORIGINAL BREAKING STORY: Lions trade Matthew Stafford to Rams for 3 draft picks, QB Jared Goff
At first glance, he passed with flying colors.
For general managers, it doesn’t get much bigger than trading the most productive quarterback in franchise history. Matthew Stafford was the team’s single greatest asset and the one constant (other than losing) over the last decade.
Judging by reports that as many as eight teams were involved in trade discussions for Stafford, the entire league knew Holmes was dangling a valuable commodity.
Holding the reins of an NFL franchise is still new to Holmes, so he went back to familiar pastures: the Los Angeles Rams.
A month ago, Holmes was the director of scouting for the Rams. Now, he’s reportedly shipping them a new franchise quarterback in exchange for two first-round picks, a third-round pick and Jared Goff.
Nobody really knew what a Stafford trade would bring back to the Lions, but two first-round picks always felt like the best-case scenario. To say the Lions have rarely achieved any best-case scenario would be an understatement.
So it was a savvy move for Holmes to not only send Stafford to a team that becomes an immediate Super Bowl contender with him at the helm, but to also take Goff’s contract off their hands in the process, therefore maximizing the draft capital coming to Detroit in return.
Goff, like Stafford, is a former No. 1 overall pick. He earned Pro Bowl selections in 2017 and 2018 when he combined for 8,492 passing yards, 60 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while completing 63.6% of his passes for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt.
Also, he’s only 26 years old.
The last two seasons have been pretty ugly, with Goff throwing 29 interceptions in 31 games. Worst-case scenario: He’s still bad, the Lions draft a new franchise quarterback this year or next year and Goff is off the books at the end of 2022.
Best-case scenario, he’s a solid option and the Lions start him until whoever they draft is ready to take over for the long haul.
Either way, while the quarterback situation is playing out, the Lions will have an extra third-round pick in 2021 and additional first-round picks in 2022 and 2023. If you’ve watched this defense over the last several years, you know it’s going to take as many early-round draft picks as possible to fix.
Let’s be clear: Holmes’ job is far from over. He needs to make every single one of those new draft picks -- as well as the existing ones -- count, otherwise this trade will simply give the Lions a different look as they continue to lose.
But for a team that’s gathering a little momentum for the first time in decades by making impressive coaching and front office hires, this trade is another offseason victory.
Stafford had some great moments here, but Goff has already tied him in Lions playoff wins. The old way obviously didn’t work, and Plan B seems to be off to a good start.
So go ahead, Detroit. Give Holmes a round of applause. He nailed a critical chapter of his reign.
But with 60 years of ineptitude to overcome, this trade is like finishing the first edge of a 1,000-piece puzzle. Holmes still has a long way to go.