Everyone figured Matthew Stafford’s extension with the Detroit Lions would beat Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal, and that came true Monday. Stafford’s deal is also for five years and makes him the highest paid NFL player ever, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said. The deal is worth $135 million according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Among those who hadn’t paid attention to the salary landscape among NFL quarterbacks, expect a lot of freak-outs. It’s strange to put “Matthew Stafford” and “highest paid player in NFL history” together. Stafford has been solid, with six straight 4,000-yard seasons. But he hasn’t been great. He has been a Pro Bowler only once. The Lions have never won a playoff game with Stafford at quarterback, losing all three playoff games with him. In games Stafford has started, Detroit is just 5-46 against winning teams.
However, the chances of the Lions letting Stafford go in free agency and finding a better quarterback right away were very, very slim. Stafford is the best quarterback the Lions have had in a long time, he’s just 29 years old and he’s the best thing going for the franchise. Teams that don’t have a quarterback as good as Stafford use top pick after top pick trying to find one – ask the Jacksonville Jaguars about that. Stafford was realistically never going to hit the open market, but if he did you would have seen a bidding war like we’ve never seen in the NFL before (we will see that bidding war if Kirk Cousins hits free agency next year).
Is Stafford overpaid? Probably. But it’s not like the Lions were going to be better off without him. They had to pay him, and hope that he continues to play at this level – or show an improvement – and build a better team around him.
Of course, building a better supporting cast around Stafford becomes tougher with him hoarding so much of the salary-cap room. But it’s not like the Lions really had a choice.
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