ESPN Matthew Stafford will become the highest-paid player in NFL history with the five-year deal he has agreed to with the Detroit Lions, sources told ESPN on Monday night. The deal will have an average annual value of $27 million, a source said, putting Stafford ahead of the five-year contract that pays $25 million annually to Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, which Carr signed last month.
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Stafford’s deal is expected to guarantee him a record $92 million, including a $50 million signing bonus. The previous record for guaranteed money issued to an NFL player was $87 million for Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts. Under the deal, Stafford will be guaranteed $60.5 million at signing and $86 million by the start of Year 2 of the contract, which starts next March, a league source told Schefter. The full $92 million is guaranteed upon Year 3, the source told Schefter.
The Detroit Lions are getting some heat in the media for making Matthew Stafford the highest paid player in NFL history, but it was the right choice and the only choice for the future of the franchise. From a physical standpoint, Matthew Stafford might be the most gifted quarterback to enter the league in a decade, he has a cannon for an arm and is just entering his prime at 29-years-old. Since 2011, Matthew Stafford has played in every single possible game, and during that stretch he has never thrown for fewer than 4,200 yards and fewer than 22 touchdowns in a season. While Stafford has not won anything yet, he has not exactly had the best supporting cast over those years, and he continues to put up huge numbers. In fact, by the end of his career, I would not be shocked if Stafford holds some historical records when it comes to passing yardage. Matthew Stafford is easily a good enough quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl, and win a Super Bowl, with the right pieces around him.
What does the media want the Lions to do? Let Stafford walk? Watch another franchise pay him and try to compete with a player like Colin Kaepernick or Ryan Fitzpatrick under center?
If an NFL team today, received a call from the Detroit Lions asking them to trade their starting quarterback for Matthew Stafford straight up, how many say no?
The Packers with Aaron Rodgers hang up immediately. The Falcons with Matt Ryan, the Seahawks with Russell Wilson and the Panthers with Cam Newton say no because their quarterbacks are in their primes and have led teams to the Super Bowl before. Maybe teams with emerging stars like the Titans with Marcus Mariota, the Raiders with Derek Carr the Cowboys with Dak Prescott, the Eagles with Carson Wentz and the Buccaneers with Jameis Winston would think about it but ultimately say no. The Patriots probably say no, because they have Tom Brady, and even though he’s 40-years-old he’s Tom Brady. The Colts probably say no, because Andrew Luck is a mega talent, despite his injury history.
That’s 11 teams tops that could possibly say no to swapping their starting quarterback for Matthew Stafford straight up, I think the rest of the league makes the deal either due to the age of their starter (Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees) or the fact that Stafford is a better player than their current starting quarterback.
This is why the Lions have to pay Stafford, he is a legitimate NFL starting quarterback entering his prime who gives you a chance to win, and he is better than the vast majority of the alternatives.