Lions' legend Barry Sanders says it'll be 'difficult to replace' Matt Stafford

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Ethan Cadeaux
·2 min read
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Barry Sanders says it'll be 'difficult to replace' Matt Stafford originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

After 12 seasons with Detroit, quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions are reportedly expected to part ways this offseason. And the Washington Football Team is among the many QB-needy clubs that could pursue a trade for the former Pro Bowler.

With Stafford likely on his way out of Detroit, new Lions head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes will be tasked with finding the successor to the franchise's all-time passing leader.

For former Detroit running back and legend Barry Sanders, finding No. 9's replacement might be "very difficult" for the organization. 

"I know Matt has a lot of good football left in him," Sanders said on Good Morning Football on Tuesday. "It certainly will be very difficult to replace a guy like that, who put up the kind of numbers he has over his career."

In his 12 seasons with Detroit, Stafford has thrown for over 45,000 passing yards and 282 touchdowns, both by far the most in Lions history. 

While Detroit has only made the playoffs three times with Stafford under center, it's hardly been the quarterback's fault. The soon-to-be 33-year-old has thrown for 4,000 or more yards in eight of his 12 seasons and has been one of the most durable players at his position over that span.

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It's understandable why Detroit wants to head into a rebuild, as they've missed the playoffs each of the past four seasons. It also makes sense why Stafford wants out, as he wants to win and the Lions aren't currently built to contend.

But at least for the immediate future, Sanders says it'll be hard for his former team to get better production from a different quarterback than what they've received over Stafford's career.

"It will be tough to replace a guy like Matt Stafford, who I feel like in a lot of ways carried the franchise for the last decade," Sanders said. "You felt like you always had a chance with Matt... I know as a Lions fan, I wish him well."