Matthew Stafford will be "full go" for the start of offseason workouts in April, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said at the NFL combine Tuesday, after broken bones in the quarterback's back forced him to miss the last two months of the 2019 season.
Quinn said that he recently spoke with Stafford and that "he's feeling really good." Quinn said Stafford is back to training fully as well. That's good news for the 32-year-old, who suffered his back injury late in a Nov. 3 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Stafford practiced the next week but didn't play against Chicago, snapping a 136-game start streak. The NFL fined the Lions, Quinn and coach Matt Patricia a combined $110,000 for how they handled the reporting of Stafford's injury in the week leading up to the game against the Bears, and Detroit didn't win a game without Stafford last season.
The quarterback, though, said in December he believed the injury "was kind of a freak deal" and that there would be no long-term effects of it once he healed. He also said at the time: "I want to play for a long time."
Stafford has been mentioned in possible trade rumors in January and early February, but Quinn told ESPN earlier this month that those rumors were "100% false." Before the injury, he had been playing some of the best football of his career, completing 64.3% of his passes for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in eight games.
Although Quinn didn't rule out taking any position at No. 3 and said Detroit has to evaluate everybody in this year's draft, he did make it clear he believes in his current starting quarterback.
"The one thing about Matthew is his No. 1 trait is still the same as when I came here 4½ years ago," Quinn said. "He still has that great arm strength. He's a competitor. He's tough. He's sneaky athletic. I think he's improved his athleticism a little bit over his career. He does a great job taking care of his body.
"So you take all those things into consideration, just like any other player, are they ascending, are they declining? I think it's different for every position in terms of how old they are. In my opinion, when you're a quarterback, your prime is your late 20s into your early 30s. Like that's your prime because you take your first part of your career and you're working on all those other things. As we saw, how did Matthew play last year when he was out there? I think everyone would agree he played really good. So that's what we're expecting when he comes back."
Stafford has three years left on his contract, which made him the highest-paid player in the NFL when he signed it in 2017. This season, he will make a base salary of $15.5 million with a cap hit of $21.3 million.