The previous time the Detroit Lions went into an offseason with a rebuilding project this large, they were coming off a winless season and drafted quarterback Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – JANUARY 03: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 03, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Detroit’s new general manager and coach will have to decide if Stafford is part of their plans to retool a franchise in desperate need of major changes after losing 33 games in three seasons.

READ MORE: Michigan Extends Gatherings And Mask Order, Strengthens Mask Requirement For Children Ages 2-4

Stafford has two years left on his $135 million, five-year deal, but the new leaders of the Lions may opt to reshape the roster by trading him to acquire more draft picks.

And Stafford may simply say he’s ready to move on from the Motor City.

“There’s a lot to discuss,” he acknowledged after the season ended with a 37-35 loss to Minnesota. “I’ll obviously keep that between my family and I and all that, but we’ll figure it out at some other date I’m sure.”

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – JANUARY 03: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions signals the receiver during the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 03, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Minnesota defeated Detroit 37-35. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Stafford surpassed the 45,000-yard mark for passing Sunday in his 165th game, the fewest games an NFL player has had to reach that number, and he threw three for three scores against the Vikings to raise his career total to 282 touchdowns.

Like many of Stafford’s statistics, they were marred by a loss as the team dropped to 5-11 this season and he fell to 74-89-1 in the regular season as a starter.

Detroit drafted the strong-armed Stafford with the hopes he could help the franchise have playoff success. But he went 0-3 in 2011, 2014, and 2016 postseasons.

Offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who signed a six-year, $85 million deal just before last season started, said Monday he planned to lobby Lions President Rod Wood to keep Stafford as a teammate.

DETROIT, MI – DECEMBER 15: Taylor Decker #68 of the Detroit Lions watches the action on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field on December 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay defeated Detroit 38-17. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

“I would love to keep protecting his blindside,” Decker said.


The franchise’s top priorities this offseason are to hire a general manager and coach to replace Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia after both were fired five-plus weeks ago.

San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is interviewing with the Lions later this week and he is also talking with Atlanta and Jacksonville about their head coaching job, according to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 26: Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on December 26, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy plans to interview with the Lions among other teams, a person familiar with his plans told the AP on condition of anonymity because he has not made his plans public.

Chris Spielman, who has ties throughout the league as a former Lions linebacker and TV analyst, is playing a key role in the searches as a special assistant.


READ MORE: Michigan Reports 8,955 New COVID-19 Cases, 40 Deaths Friday

The Lions have needs at every position group on defense after setting franchise records by allowing 519 points and 6,716 yards, breaking marks set by their winless team in 2008, and ranking among the worst ever in the league.

“The talent is here,” insisted safety Duron Harmon, one of the many ex-Patriots that Quinn and Patricia acquired. “Injuries were tough on us this year. We never had a fully healthy team.”


Even though receiver Kenny Golladay played in just five games during the 2020 season, the Lions can’t afford to let him get away in free agency. Detroit drafted him in the third round four years ago and he led the league in receiving touchdowns in 2019.

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 28: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions makes a catch and runs the ball in the first quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 28, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

The Lions likely won’t be able to afford to keep veteran receiver Marvin Jones, who had nine touchdown receptions for the second straight season, a career-high 76 receptions and nearly 1,000 yards receiving to improve his value on the market as a free agent.


Detroit will have the No. 7 pick in the draft and it needs help at every position, giving the team a lot of options in April. And it desperately needs 2021 picks to pan out.

The Lions took Jeff Okudah last year No. 3 overall, becoming the first team in more than two decades to draft a cornerback that high. Okudah struggled with only one interception in nine games before needing season-ending groin surgery in mid-December.

“I don’t want to make any excuses,” he said. “If you’re out there on Sunday, you’re good enough to go.”

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Jeff Okudah #30 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after tackling DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Looking back, the team probably would have been better served by selecting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert instead of a highly-touted cornerback.

Okudah said he will be motivated to validate his place in the draft for the people who believed he was worth selecting as high as he was last year.


MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Update: Are You Eligible For A Plus-Up Payment?

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.