Is Matthew Stafford Untradeable?

When we extended Stafford in 2017, we agreed to pay him $135M (27M APY for 5 years 2018-2022). Through the first two years of the extension, we’ve paid him $76.5M, that gives us the right to pay him another $58.5M ($19.5M APY) for the final three years and have him as our QB. For a QB the caliber of Stafford $19.5M per year for three years is a bargain as there are 19 QB’s in the league that signed contracts in which they will earn more than $20M APY and that doesn’t include guys like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson who are currently playing on their rookie contracts.

We probably won’t trade him for three reasons, 1) $19.5M APY is a great deal for a QB the caliber of Stafford and 2) He renegotiated his 2020 salary to free up cap space AND if we were going to trade him, there is no reason to do that, as a trade escalates that salary cap savings back into 2020 and 3) Quinn and Patricia are probably in a win now mode, if they don’t perform well this year, they may be out, thus, they don’t have time to wait for a QB to get acclimated.

But, unlike what many people have said, Stafford and his contract is tradeable. If we were to trade him before his 2020 option bonus (from the 2019 renegotiation, likely 03/17) is due, he would count $24.8M in dead cap space. That’s not the $32M that has been reported (It’s $32M in dead cap space if we pay the 2020 option bonus and then trade him, which is even more unlikely).

If we traded Stafford (and I think that’s a big IF), we would save $15.5M (2020), $20M (2021) and $23M (2022) in CASH and SAVE $33M (2021), $26M (2022) and $3M (2022) in cap space and only a $3.5M additional cap charge for Stafford in 2020 (before a trade, Stafford counted $21.3M and after a trade, he’d count $24.8). According to, we have $46M in cap space and would have $42.5M in cap space if we traded Stafford . . . but now we have no QB.

I still think it’s highly unlikely that we trade Stafford, but the numbers don’t prohibit a trade if we see a Herschel Walker trade offer and signing a vet QB.


I agree 100% even more so the $6 Mill roster bonus that fully guaranteed on 3/17/19 (The start of the league year) does not get paid until 3/22/20 giving us 5 days to work a trade out . Those 5 days added had to be done for a reason , those 5 days and the fact that Stafford agreed to those parameters says it as well …Stafford knew… He’s getting his money, the 5 days is just a matter of who will be paying it to him and giving the Lions an opportunity to move him if they so choose with out being on the hook for the bonus money when originally written , but he converted it in 2019 to a signing bonus in 2019 which allowed the Lions to spread it out over his remaining years lowering his cap number in 2020 …This to me seems like a move that you would do to keep him not move him . He no longer has bonus coming to him in 2020 it has already been paid and spread out over the remaining years so we are on the hook for it regardless if we trade him …

I think Stafford will announce when he is truly done, there will be a podium moment where he officially announces his own retirement IMO. But no, he’s not untradeable, but here in 2020 it’s not going to happen. Even IF we draft a QB, it has more to do with the fact is all we have is Blough backing Stafford “right now”, than it IS Matt’s heir apparent. Stafford can easily play five or more seasons (depending) on HIS wants and opinion, and yes health.

I am of the opinion that there WILL definitely be a point he calls it and that timeline in my mind is within the next ten years, not a long while, where Stafford is no longer our #1 Starting QB.

Every offseason from now going forward, there will be quite a bit of discussion of Stafford either being traded OR his retiring. With it, there will be a LOT of debates over many QB’s that take Staffords’ place…just like we have already seen here in 2020.

I assure you Matt has thought about his remaining time in the NFL, but if you would ask him if he’s going to hang it up even three years down the road? I bet he’d tell you "hell no ! "

I’ll say it again, I don’t think the crop of QB’s now screams must-have , only it IS something we must think about, and often going forward.

Good to see you, Deadstroke.

Thanks for laying all this info out there for us.

This shit is confusing sometimes …The Lions converted $7.2 Million of 2020 base salary and his 2020 $6 Million dollar roster bonus into signing bonus in late 2019 …a total of $13.2 Million was added to signing bonus that gets prorated the rest of the way …if we traded him at any point before the season we have a dead cap number of $32 Million for 2020 …

$12 Million of the $13.2 Million we restructured is on our books ($1.2 went against our 2019 cap ) along with the $10 mill per year in original signing bonus money for 2020 and 2021 …

I think …Is this right? His dead cap is really still $32 Million with no roster bonus in 2020 now ?

I’m pretty sure he is wrong, which would be a first .
The reported $32 Million is still $32 Million in dead money should we move him .

He’s correct, I was tripped up by this when we were talking about trading Stafford LAST offseason, it’s all about the dates and when the bonuses kick in.

Yes… I remember we were discussing it.
Whats correct though ? Dead Stroke in his original post is making the mistake that Stafford still has a 2020 roster bonus coming to him …Stafford doesn’t. We converted it to signing bonus already in 2019 along with $7.2 Million in base 2020 Salary…Over The Cap still has the $6 Million showing as bonus money in 2020 but that is incorrect . That bonus money column for 2020 should now read $0
…not the $6 Million it currently shows .

He still gets a bonus in 2020, it’s just a matter of when. Here’s an article backing up what DS said…

The article writer is doing what DeadStroke is doing …They looked at Overthecap and the $6 Million showing under bonus money in 2020… but that is not the case. Overthecap is correct everywhere else but that column …
Over the cap themselves state he currently has $13 Million in prorated bonus money for 2020 and 2021 along with $3 Million in 2022 & 2023 for a total of $32 Million .

That’s $32 Million in Dead cap space no matter how you cut it .

If that article and Deadstroke were correct …the dead money for this year would read $6 Million less than it does and not change to $32 Million until after the bonus money was due and paid on 3/22/20 but that’s not the case here, he no longer has bonus money in 2020 it was converted to signing bonus and prorated already along with $7.2 Million of his 2020 salary for a total of $13.2 Million .

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Nice work George.

The other reason we know it’s done already and that no bonus exists in 2020 for Stafford to be paid is because of the $1.2 Million that was already accelerated into the 2019 cap of this past season …
$1.2 Million of the $13.2 Million dollar restructure that was done, we have accounted for already in our 2019 cap …
Leaving $12 Million more that we are on the hook for …Add that to the prorated portion ($20 Million remaining) of his initial signing bonus it leaves $32 Million in prorated money that Stafford has already been paid by the Lions. That’s on us and no one else.
We essentially wrote Stafford a check for $13.2 Million late in the 2019 season for the privilege of spreading it out over the remaining years and adding a dummy year …
The article written by a Maven writer (Someone like you and me ) does not take into consideration that Over The Cap themselves state it was a $13.2 Million dollar restructure that was converted to signing bonus in 2019 ( $7.2 Mill salary and $6 Mill Roster Bonus from 2020) Dead Stroke and the article writer did not take that into equation .
Stafford if cut or traded with no post 6/1 designation available this season (as of yet anyway) will account for $32 Million in dead cap space with no date changing that number.

Edit : Now I’m getting my information from Over The Cap themselves based on the notes and numbers they reported …If I’m wrong it’s because Over The Cap contradicts itself by saying he has $6 Million in a column in bonus money remaining but in the contract notes states Stafford restructured his contract so that ($13.2 Million Salary and Bonus money from 2020 was changed into signing bonus ) …both can’t be correct, he either did or didn’t .

I’ll have to defer to DS on this, I know over the cap has mislead me before with not updating numbers until the league year begins/option dates pass

It wouldn’t be the first time that I’m wrong, but let me explain to you what I think happen.

At, Jason has signing/option bonuses of $6M in 2019 and $7.2M in 2020 and he also has reduced his 2020 base salary from $15M to $7.8M. That $6M that he is treating as signging bonus in 2019 is the roster bonus that is/was due in 03/20.

Roster bonuses are recognized in the year paid, unless it is fully guaranteed, then it can be amortized over the life of the contract at the date of signing.

Based on the information that is out there, I think in December of 2019, $7.2M of Stafford’s $15M 2020 base salary was moved to an option bonus in 2020 and they also fully guaranteed his $6M 2020 roster bonus. If they did this, the $6M roster bonus would be amortized at the date of the signing (but still paid when originally due 03/20), in this case it would include 2019. If that’s the case, the Lions would actually save an additional $6M in cash in 2020 (all the other cash and cap numbers would be the same).

The way I drew it up in the initial post is my way of trying to keep it simple (basically saying they paid the $6M Roster bonus in 12/19), but this above is what I think actually happened in December 2019.

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But if this was the case then why the acceleration of $1.2 Million into the 2019 cap? The only way it would be an option in 2020 would be if the entire $7.2 Million was on the line in 2020 as a bonus , we know that’s not the case… hence making it a signing bonus , with the $1.2 going into 2019 reflecting the time that was remaining in the 2019 season when signed …No?

Yes they did fully guarantee the $6 Million dollar roster bonus that was due to be paid to him this coming 3/20/20 …But this bonus money was already fully guaranteed to Stafford as he earned the bonus and it was fully guaranteed to him when he was on our roster last season on 3/17/19 …the only way to have it spread out, (the $6 Million 2020 roster bonus) would have to have been to restructure it from a roster bonus in 2020 (which he already earned on 3/17/19) and instead into a signing bonus along with the $7.2 Million that was converted … The only way they spread out the $13.2 Mill restructure over the life of the contract would be to convert the $13.2 Million into signing bonus …hence the $1.2 going in immediately in 2019 …That was the way I understood it . If the $1.2 had not happened in 2019 it would make what you are saying the case but I cant see how that works when it did get accelerated in 2019 …If I’m wrong school me please because I don’t see it .

Kelly’s untradeability is getting near Miko Grimes territory…

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Hahahahah yep …actually a smart play if she wants no part of it .

The $6M was spread over 5 years, 2019-2023, $1.2M per year. The $7.2M was spread over 4 years, 2020-2023, $1.8M per year. The original signing bonus of $50M was spread over 5 years, 2017-2021. So, $10M (2017), $10M (2018), $11.2M (2019), $13M (2020), $13M (2021), $3M (2022) and $3M (2023).

Roster bonuses are amortized over the life of the contract only when they are fully guaranteed at signing. i.e. if Slay signs a contract and his $10M 2021 roster bonus becomes fully guaranteed 10 days after his signing, then since it’s not fully guaranteed at signing, it isn’t amortized over the life of the contract, it has to be recognized in the year earned. But if Slay signs a contract and his $10M 2021 roster bonus is fully guaranteed at signing, then it is amortized over the life of the contract, when earned (at signing).

Since Stafford’s 2020 Roster bonus was fully guaranteed at his restructure signing, then the roster bonus is amortized over the life of the contract.

I get that …I understand that …bear with me here because I love this shit and want to be versed …

But Stafford’s 2020 bonus money of $6 Million was not fully guaranteed at his restructure in December . . It was previously fully guaranteed prior to the December restructure based on the initial deal signed and was guaranteed in March of 2019. So how can that be the case unless the restructure was a signing bonus ?

This is my point though , you broke it down …the money has already been spread out as reflected in the $1.2 of it going into the 2019 cap, hence its not on the table as a bonus money to be paid at a later date for another team to absorb anymore …It was converted into cash paid in 2019 and spread out over the contract remaining and an added dummy year …
If we trade him or cut him the dead cap # is $32 Million to us in 2020 and to the team acquiring him in a trade it would be $7.8 Mill in base salary and a $500k workout bonus a total of $8.3 Million in 2020 and no further guaranteed money available to Stafford for the team acquiring him …