"Stafford told the Lions they could send him anywhere but New England," wrote Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports on Sunday.
Curran speculated that Stafford's lack of interest in one of the most successful franchises in NFL history was a result of multiple factors: having to experience the winter weather in an outdoor environment, a lack of offensive stars, a "No Days Off" mantra and a reunion with Matt Patricia, a Bill Belichick disciple who was the Lions head coach for two-plus seasons with Stafford before being fired and later rehired by New England.
With the move to L.A., Stafford will join a team that ranked 11th in total offense (377.0 yards per game), with a pair of receivers in Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods who each surpassed 900 yards. Tyler Higbee was productive at tight end with 521 yards and five touchdowns.
The Patriots, meanwhile, will enter 2021 with perhaps more uncertainty than they faced entering this season, when their quarterback of the last two decades, Tom Brady, departed to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl berth. To some, including former New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, that was the beginning of the Patriots' downfall:
Their answer under center, Cam Newton, was inconsistent, finishing the year with 2,657 passing yards (65.8 percent completions) and more rushing touchdowns (12) than passing (eight) while throwing 10 interceptions. He added 529 yards on the ground. New England's offense ranked sixth-worst in the league. Jakobi Meyers led all pass-catchers with 729 yards but never found the end zone, while running back Damien Harris posted 691 yards and two scores.
The Patriots finished the season 7-9, their worst record since 2000. Stafford could have been an answer to their problems, but for now, there's little indication to suggest things will be different next season.