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Lions GM 'comfortable' with Matt Stafford returning

Matthew Stafford's back injury sent an already spiraling Detroit Lions season down the pipe. The Lions lost nine straight games to close the season -- the final eight sans Stafford -- with a 3-12-1 record.

Securing the No. 3 overall pick puts Detroit in a spot to contemplate taking a young quarterback high, like Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, and ultimately moving on from Stafford.

At the Senior Bowl, Lions GM Bob Quinn told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL radio, he plans to ride Stafford once more and isn't worried about the back injury lingering into 2020.

"Yeah, I'm totally comfortable and happy that Matthew Stafford's our quarterback," Quinn said, via the Detroit Free Press. "He's going to be in full health once the offseason program starts its course. He's pretty much at full health. Talked to him about 10 days ago. He was in the office, so he's feeling great, he's in a good mindset. He's excited."

Stafford was enjoying a rebirth last season under Darrell Bevell before injury wiped away the campaign. With the season lost, the Lions smartly didn't push their QB to return down the stretch, hoping to put the back issues that pained Stafford in the rearview mirror.

"I feel great about Matthew," Quinn said. "He's going to come back strong when we're ready to go for next year."

Stafford is under contract in Detroit for the next three seasons with a salary cap figure of $21.3 million in 2020, $33 million in 2021, and $26 million in 2021.

With Quinn and coach Matt Patricia being put on notice by Lions ownership that they must produce this season, it follows logically that the brass wouldn't want to risk riding a rookie into the unknown in a must-win season. Sticking with Stafford likely gives the Lions the best shot at a quick turnaround.

Detroit will surely take note of the San Francisco 49ers, who turned coaching in the Senior Bowl one year to coaching in the Super Bowl the next after a Jimmy Garoppolo injury sideswiped their 2018 campaign. To have a similar swift turnaround, the Lions must hit home runs on several high draft picks and upgrade the depth across the roster.

Even if Quinn doesn't spend the No. 3 overall pick on a QB, he should be in the market to draft one in 2020, which has become deep at the position. A Lions season already on the brink, collapsed with Stafford's injury leaving Jeff Driskel and undrafted QB David Blough to steer the ship into the dirt. Quinn must finally find a young developmental signal-caller in the draft.

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