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NFL Insider Lays Out Likely Timeline For Matt Stafford Trade

matthew stafford celebrates during a lions game

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 19: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a second quarter touchdown during the preseason game against the New York Jets on August 19, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions rocked the NFL world on Saturday night with a decision to mutually part ways with long-time quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Initial reports indicated the new-look franchise would begin exploring trade options sometime over the next couple weeks. But, NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero has since revealed a more precise time table.

"A trade would likely happen before the fifth day of the 2021 league year in March, when Stafford is due a $10 million bonus,"

A trade would likely happen before the fifth day of the 2021 league year in March, when Stafford is due a $10 million bonus. He has two years and $43M left on his contract – a bargain price for a quarterback who is still playing at a high level. https://t.co/Ie1pP6AANe

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 23, 2021

">Pelissero wrote on Twitter. "He has two years and $43M left on his contract – a bargain price for a quarterback who is still playing at a high level."

Back in 2017, Stafford signed a 5-year, $135 million contract with the Lions through 2022. For the next two years, Stafford is slated to make $10 million per season on roster bonuses should he make it past that fifth day of the league year in March. Unless Detroit wants to eat that hit, they'll agree to a trade before this mark.

With $92 million guaranteed on his contract, any team that agrees to a trade would have to swallow $43 million in remaining payments over the next two years. But, as Pelissero said, this price is a steal for a veteran QB still playing at a high level.

In his 12th NFL season with Detroit this past year, Stafford threw 339/528 for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Starting each of the Lions' 16 games in 2020, the former No. 1 overall draft pick showed his continued durability -- battling through injuries all year.

Though he's exhibited plenty of personal success through his tenure, the combination of Stafford and Detroit clearly hasn't been working out recently. The last time the Lions celebrated a winning season with their long-time QB at the helm was back in 2017.

With Detroit's front-office overhaul this offseason, now is as good a time as any to move on at the quarterback position. With the hiring of new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell, the next franchise quarterback is the final piece to the puzzle.