Matthew Stafford and the L.A. Rams are arguably the most buzzed-about new combo in the NFL, but according to one NFL Network analyst, the match almost didn’t happen.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network christened opening day of the 2021 season with a column stating Stafford almost went to the Panthers.
According to Rapoport, the Lions were going to send Stafford to the Carolina Panthers, but Stafford didn’t want to go.
Here’s what Rapoport says:
“Yet, in late January, one team jumped to the forefront — the Carolina Panthers. They were aggressive. Sources said they actually neared a deal by the time they left the Senior Bowl. Several people involved thought they would be the winner of the Stafford sweepstakes.
Sources say that’s when Stafford — who makes his first start for the Rams on Sunday night versus the Bears — stepped in. After consulting with his family, he made clear that he wanted to go to the Rams and so did his family. Stafford made his voice heard, and the Lions brass listened.
Suddenly, the Panthers — despite offering a prime first-round pick and Teddy Bridgewater — were out.”
Other teams wanted in, too:
“The other offers for Stafford were large. Multiple high picks from most teams, including the Colts (with owner Jim Irsay leading the way), the Denver Broncos and the Washington Football Team.
In fact, even the rival Chicago Bears made it clear they were in the mix, knowing they needed to offer more to get an interdivision trade. While the 49ers remained interested, they didn’t make a formal offer. Neither did the New York Jets.”
Read Rapoport’s full take here.