The Detroit Lions have made a big move to land Big V.
According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Media, the Lions will sign Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year deal worth $50 million.
After cutting Rick Wagner earlier in the week, the Lions needed a starter at right tackle. Vaitai should fill that role after being squeezed out of a starting job by the depth the Philadelphia Eagles had.
Vaitai has started 20 games in four seasons. It’ll be a big step up for him starting full time, but the Lions clearly believe he can do it considering how much money they’re giving him. It’s a risk, but clearly one they don’t mind taking.
There have been widespread rumors about a possible Matthew Stafford trade during the offseason, but those rumors have been firmly denied by the Detroit Lions. There’s a new theory regarding why — and that’s that it’s not the organization itself driving those rumors.
According to Michael Silver of NFL Media, some coaches and executives around the league believe that Stafford is the one pushing for a trade from the Lions, not the other way around.
The Lions have been aggressive about denying these rumors, and Stafford’s camp not so much. It would be easy to understand why Stafford might want out: he just turned 32, the Lions don’t appear close to contending, and there could be high-profile quarterback jobs available this offseason. However, with the Lions appearing staunchly opposed to the idea, this definitely doesn’t seem likely at this time.
The Detroit Lions hold the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and there has been some speculation that they could look to trade Matthew Stafford and select a quarterback at that spot. According to Lions general manager Bob Quinn, the first part is not going to happen.
A report from WDIV-TV in Detroit late Wednesday night claimed the Lions have been in discussions about trading Stafford for “a couple of weeks.” Stafford’s wife Kelly breathed more life into the speculation when she posted on Instagram that she wouldn’t mind moving to Los Angeles “if Detroit is done with us.”
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reached out to Quinn for his thoughts on the report, and Quinn shot it down in no uncertain terms. The GM told Birkett in a text message that the rumors are “100% false!!”
Stafford carries a cap hit of about $27 million for next season, and he has dealt with a significant back injury over the past two years. He missed eight games this past season because of it, but he was having his best year as a pro prior to that. The 32-year-old had 2,499 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions in eight games before the back injury sidelined him.
One option the Lions could explore is drafting a quarterback and having him sit behind Stafford for a year or two. Detroit would have to absorb $24.8 million in dead money if they released Stafford this offseason, but that number drops significantly if they part ways with him prior to the 2021 season.
Quinn made some comments last month that made it seem like the Lions expect to have Stafford back next season, so it would quite the surprise if that plan changes.
Matthew Stafford endured a tough season in 2019 that saw him fail to appear in all 16 games for the first time in nearly a decade, but it sounds like the Detroit Lions expect the veteran quarterback to be all-systems go heading forward.
With Stafford having dealt with a serious back injury that held him out of half the season, there has been speculation that the Lions could have second thoughts about the nearly $27 million salary cap hit the QB carries next year. However, Detroit general manager Bob Quinn told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday that he is “totally comfortable” entering the 2020 season with Stafford.
“He’s going to be in full health once the offseason program starts its course,” Quinn said, via Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press. “He’s pretty much at full health. Talked to him about 10 days ago. He was in the office, so he’s feeling great, he’s in a good mindset. He’s excited.”
The Lions have the third overall pick in a deep quarterback draft, so it would not be a shock if they took a QB in that spot. That would likely signal that they do not expect Stafford to be with the team for, say, five more years, but Stafford’s roster spot should be safe in the short-term. Detroit would have to absorb $24.8 million in dead money if they released Stafford this offseason. That number drops significantly if they part ways with him prior to the 2021 season.
Aside from all the financial logistics, Stafford was having his best season as a pro before the back injury sidelined him this year. He had 2,499 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions in eight games. Stafford also showcased his toughness by playing through the injury for a long time. The Lions could do a lot worse.
Matt Patricia is going to get an opportunity to coach the Detroit Lions for a third year, but ownership has made it clear it will be his last if the team is not in the playoff hunt late in the season.
On Tuesday, Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford told reporters that both Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn will return in 2020. However, Ford said Detroit’s ownership group expects Patricia to make staff changes and essentially made it clear he will be fired if the team doesn’t have a winning record next December.
The Lions have lost seven games in a row and are going to finish in last place in the NFC North for a second consecutive season. Patricia was likely given the benefit of the doubt this year because Matthew Stafford has been out for more than a month with a back injury, and he was having one of the best seasons of his career prior to that. Although, Detroit had lost four of the last five games in which Stafford played.
Detroit went 9-7 in both 2016 and 2017 before firing Jim Caldwell and bringing in Patricia, so you can understand why fans are frustrated. Patricia cracked a clever joke about his job security after the Lions’ latest loss on Sunday, but he will be on a very short leash next season.
The NFL regular season is winding down, and the stakes are high. As clarity starts to develop in some of the playoff races, the pressure increases for those still in contention. It’s not just them, though; every team has players fighting for jobs, and even teams long out of the playoff hunt are still trying very hard to bolster their reputations and statistics down the stretch.
So who failed to deliver? Who disappointed in Week 15? Here’s a look at some who did.
Duck Hodges, QB, Steelers
The Steelers have been winning games this season by relying on their defense and hoping their offense doesn’t screw it up, or does just enough to win. They needed a little more than that from their offense on Sunday, but they didn’t get it. Duck Hodges was intercepted four times and sacked four times in a 17-10 loss. They were up 10-7 and in Buffalo territory before Duck threw a game-changing interception that allowed the Bills to flip the field and tie the game. Then with the Steelers hoping for some magic late to tie the game, Duck threw interceptions in the end zone on consecutive possessions. He just wasn’t able to do enough.
Los Angeles Rams’ defense
The Rams defense has actually been a pretty sturdy unit except for a couple games, like the ones against Baltimore and Tampa Bay. On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys joined those groups, putting up 28 first half points and 44 overall on the Rams. The rush defense was the Rams’ real weakness. Both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott ran for over 100 yards and got basically whatever they wanted whenever they touched the ball. It was a big setback for the Rams, who at 8-6 are facing an uphill playoff climb.
The Detroit Lions have become the latest team to be fined for violating the NFL’s injury report policy.
The league fined the Lions organization $75,000 for their failure to properly update Matthew Stafford’s status prior to a Nov. 10 game against the Chicago Bears. Coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn were also fined.
The Lions listed Stafford as questionable in the leadup to that game, and he was reported to be out on Sunday morning. Inconsistencies ultimately emerged in the handling of the injury. Some players said at the time they were aware as of Saturday that Stafford was unlikely to play, which, at best, should have led to a designation of doubtful. The result is a pretty severe financial fine for the Lions in the context of other penalties for the same policy violation.
The Detroit Lions were recently interested in signing former NFL quarterback Josh Johnson to a contract with Matthew Stafford battling a back injury, but the XFL reportedly blocked the move.
Johnson, who has played for 13 different NFL teams, was officially assigned to the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats on Friday. The Lions had interest in signing Johnson for QB depth since Stafford is hurt, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the XFL would not allow it.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk obtained a copy of the standard XFL player contract last week, and the language in it states that a player who is under contract is only permitted to leave the league for the NFL after his XFL team’s season concludes. The latest date for that would be April 26, which is when the XFL championship game will be held. That is also the day after the NFL Draft concludes.
The ability for players to leave for the NFL after the XFL season will be a positive for some, as they will have the opportunity to showcase their talents to NFL teams that might be interested. However, the average XFL player salary will be around $55,000, whereas the NFL league minimum salary is $495,000 this season. In this instance, Johnson would be missing out on a much better gig if the Lions were going to sign him.
One player has already dropped out of the XFL after feeling he was misled about the salary structure.
Week 12 of the NFL season saw some surprising teams win, a few lopsided scores, and one owner lose it over his team’s coaching in a loss. There was some bad kicking, turnovers, and a quarterback benching as well that were all part of the disappointments from the week of games. Here are the biggest disappointments of NFL Week 12.
Jason Garrett, head coach, Cowboys
It’s hard not to point the finger at Jason Garrett after seeing some of the coaching decisions he made in the Cowboys’ loss to the Patriots. He kicked a field goal down 13-6 on a 4th-and-7 rather than go for the touchdown, which was likely Dallas’ best chance of tying or winning the game. He started off the game passing the ball despite the wet and windy conditions rather than go run-heavy early. The kick return game was abysmal and a reflection or poor coaching. It’s no surprise Jerry Jones was so upset afterwards.
Woof, what an ugly game for the Raiders. After playing three straight at home and winning them all, the Raiders headed back onto the road, and it did not go well in any phase of the game. They lost 34-3 and did not score after a field goal on their opening possession. Derek Carr threw a pick-six and did so little in the game he was replaced by Mike Glennon in the second half. The Raiders may end up back at .500 after next week’s game at Kansas City.
Week 11 saw the first team of the season mathematically eliminated from playoff contention — sorry, Bengals fans, we know you were holding out hope. While that’s not exactly a surprise, it does illustrate that we’re getting to the part of the season where teams are going to start facing a lot of mathematical must-wins to keep their playoff hopes alive in any realistic sense.
With high stakes come high expectations, and some people can’t reach those. Here are ten big disappointments from Week 11.
Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy, Bears
Trubisky had another listless showing for the Bears and was replaced by Chase Daniel with just over three minutes to go in a 17-7 loss. The Bears and Matt Nagy said the QB had a hip injury, though skeptics will question whether that information is a coverup for a benching in the latest lackluster performance by the former No. 2 overall pick. The conversation NBC showed Nagy having with Trubisky will only further the speculation that this was a benching. Whatever the case, Trubisky is just not getting the job done in Chicago, and many will question the timing of the move. Many viewed it as Nagy’s way of trying to pin the blame on his quarterback. Both Trubisky’s play and Nagy’s handling of it were disappointing.
Kyle Allen, QB, Panthers
Maybe the Falcons defense did discover something last week, or maybe Allen was just awful. Maybe it’s both. Whatever the reason, Allen demonstrated that he does not look like the future of the Carolina Panthers or any other team. Allen was sacked five times and picked off four times, frequently missing his targets. This was not a fluke, either; Allen just has not shown any real ability to consistently get the job done.