Matthew Stafford, unbothered by trade rumors, ready to lead Lions

Matthew Stafford heard the rumblings, and so did his wife, yet he remained unbothered throughout an especially uncertain offseason.

Instead, Stafford spent much of the first part of his offseason preparing to start for the Lions in 2020 and beyond, just as he's done for most of the last decade.

"I really don't pay too much attention to 'em," Stafford said of trade rumors involving him, via ESPN. "I pay less attention to them than my wife does. But it's something that doesn't bother me. I'm here. I want to be here. I love being a Detroit Lion. I love leading this team.

"So all that kind of stuff is just kind of out there to be out there. It's a slow news month at that point, and I'm just happy to be where I am and ready to deal with this offseason the way it is and try to make the best of the season that I hope happens."

The Tagovailoa talk ended up being nothing more than a smokescreen and a possible ploy to drive up the price of the No. 3 pick, which the Lions ultimately kept and spent on Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.

Stafford, meanwhile, spent the time not listening to trade rumors, but allowing his back to heal up. He said he's good to go -- "I'm moving around as good as this slow dude can move around" -- for whenever players are allowed to return to the field.

"I feel great," he said, via the team's official website. "I'm not worried about going out there and playing. If we could put the pads on today and go play, I would do it. I think my teammates know, the guys that have been with me, seen me throw it around, I'm as good as I've been the last couple years physically and I feel fine."

That's encouraging news for a team that had to face the reality of a world without Stafford last season, turning to Jeff Driskel and David Blough in their final eight games and failing to win a single one of those contests. Without Stafford, the Lions went from 3-4-1 to 3-12-1. It's good to have the signal-caller back.

When he can actually reunite with his teammates remains to be seen, but the quarterback was frank in how his injury made him appreciate the game more than ever.

"I love playing football," Stafford said. "I don't know what I would do in a fall without it, as I think a lot of Americans probably would say the same. But being involved with the game, I love it, and I'm hoping it is safe enough for all of us to get back out there.

"I don't want to put people at undue risk for us to go play a game. But at the same time, if we can find a way to make it safe for everybody, I would love to obviously be out there as soon as we can."

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