What they're saying about Matthew Stafford's $135M deal

The Detroit News
Matt Stafford

National writers offer their takes on the five-year, $135 million contract extension signed by Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. It is the richest contract in NFL history for average annual value.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

You will look at the numbers for Stafford and you will scoff. You will look at his record against teams with records better than .500, and him never having won a playoff game, and it will make you seethe. How can this be? How can he get a deal that reportedly will pay him $27 million per season, more than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and those who are better than him as a quarterback?

Here's the justification: If you have a franchise passer, you have to do everything to make sure you keep him around. You can't play the game of signing journeyman also-rans like Josh McCown, Brian Hoyer or Ryan Fitzpatrick every year and expect to compete. Plus, it was Stafford's time. He was in the final year of his deal, so the Lions had to be proactive for a guy they clearly like.

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Jason Fitzgerald, Sporting News

The contracts of Stafford and Oakland’s Derek Carr show just how much leverage quarterbacks have over front offices. In the past, players often were graded in part by playoff success and wins. Carr has never played in a playoff game, and Stafford has never won a playoff game. This should help other quarterbacks in the future who have been unable to experience the success of a QB like Rodgers or Brady.

Stafford's new contract also will keep him on pace to become the highest career earner in NFL history. He was one of the last two beneficiaries (Sam Bradford was the other) of the old CBA that gave rookies the ability to negotiate large contracts before stepping foot on the field. Stafford’s rookie contract paid him $72 million, which is more than double what the 2017 No. 1 pick earned. If Stafford plays out this next contract, which is likely given his age, he will have earned $262 million for his career.

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John Keim, ESPN

The quarterback market continues to climb. The salary cap continues to increase as well. Both statements are good for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins' future.

That reality was hammered home again when the Lions and Stafford reached an agreement on a five-year contract extension. He'll receive a $50 million signing bonus and $92 million guaranteed in the $135 million deal.

One knock on Cousins: zero playoff wins. Of course, he has started for only two full seasons. Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, has started eight seasons. He, too, has no playoff wins (and three losses). In fact, the Lions have only three winning seasons with Stafford, one of which came last season without the retired Calvin Johnson.

Frank Schwab, Yahoo Sports

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.

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

Stafford became the NFL's highest-paid player on Monday, just 17 months after Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco held that same title.

The connection between the strong-armed passers is that Stafford reached the financial pinnacle the same way Flacco did. Call it the Joe Flacco rule. Teams will pay a premium price for a quarterback, not because they believe they're the best player in the NFL but because they know they won't find a better quarterback right away. Desperate times call for disparate numbers.

The Lions, like the Ravens, knew another team would gladly overpay for Stafford if he reached free agency and, in return, Detroit would be once again searching for an answer to the most important position in the game. Just ask the Browns, Bills, Jets and Jaguars how the lack of a proven passer can handcuff a franchise.