Posted July 09, 2013

Despite red flags, Lions give Matthew Stafford three-year extension

Detroit Lions, NFC North
Matthew Stafford agreed to a three-year extension with a reported $43M guaranteed.

Matthew Stafford agreed to a three-year extension with a reported $43M guaranteed. (Al Tielemans/SI)

When stripped down to the nuts and bolts, the Detroit Lions’ roster is built around three players: Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh.

Last offseason, they made sure that Johnson would be staying for the long term, delivering to him a massive extension that bumped his contract to eight years and $150.5 million. Now, Stafford is in the fold for the foreseeable future, too, after reportedly reaching a three-year contract extension to keep him in Detroit through 2017. Next will come the new deal for Suh, whose current contract runs through 2014, with a voidable 2015 year.

Stafford might have been the easiest of that group for the Lions to bail on, even if Suh’s tough-guy antics can rub people the wrong way. After all, Stafford missed six games to injury in 2009, then sat out all but three games in 2010 with shoulder problems. He had a breakthrough 2011 performance, which earned him Comeback Player of the Year honors, but the Lions slipped to 4-12 last season, as Stafford threw only 20 touchdowns to 17 interceptions.

And since Stafford still had two years on his existing deal, with a club option for a third, the Lions had every right to wait, to give it another year, just to make sure Stafford was the right man for the job.

Instead, as they did with Johnson and likely will with Suh, the Lions jumped into the deep end for Stafford.

They needed to get this extension done for salary-cap purposes, first and foremost — Stafford was set to cost $20.8 million against the cap in 2013 and nearly $20 million in 2014. But the Lions also believe in Stafford’s abilities wholeheartedly, and they’ve hesitated little to show that, be it on the field or at the negotiating table. This move also may look prophetic, too, if Stafford now excels, since he could have been in line for an even bigger score in a couple years.

Are there reasons for concern here? Absolutely, starting with Stafford’s injury history and continuing with the fact that, as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert points out, Stafford has a 1-22 career record against teams that finish the year with winning records. Add in Stafford’s 2013 regression and the reported $43 million he’ll get in guaranteed money ($3 million more than Drew Brees received on his last deal, for example), and this seems like an over-the-top investment.

The flip side is that Stafford, believe it or not, is just 25 years old — three years younger than Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco, four younger than Aaron Rodgers. He also led the league in completions (and attempts) last season and, perhaps more importantly, has developed a Jedi-like connection with the record-setting Johnson.

The Lions may not have been up against the wall in terms of getting Stafford’s contract extension on the books, but in taking care of it before the 2013 season, they both reiterated their support of Stafford and allowed themselves to turn their attention elsewhere.

Specifically, to Suh, the third musketeer on that roster. Stafford’s deal no doubt will be laid out in such a way as to allow Detroit to solidify Suh’s contract, too.

Detroit has missed on more than its fair share of draft picks over the years. It hit the bull’s eye pretty squarely with Johnson, Suh and Stafford, though. Making sure they keep those roster centerpieces together has been the Lions’ No. 1 priority since last offseason. They’re now two-thirds of the way to that goal.

29 comments
macCham
macCham

@John4 @mugzbo All of you bashing this deal really dont know the in's and out's of it. he is set to earn 76.5 mill over 5 years. by the third year of this deal the new tv contracts will be in effect and therefor raise the salary cap number. Also with other qb's going to sign this amount wont seem so over the top. They freed up cap space with this. of course stafford would get this deal if not a bigger deal somewhere else. To blame one person on this team for there down year is ludacris. Yes his Td's dropped and he threw 1 more INT's than last year but he threw the ball all over the damn field and he was throwing it to SCRUBS...literally PRACTICE SQUAD players!!!!!!NO RUN GAME...... WEAK SECONDARY due to SCRUBS again..this year will be different and as a lions fan that is enough...I want a winning team and Stafford will be the one to deliver it to US. 

Dr.Killapatient
Dr.Killapatient

Good Job Lions management staff. Stafford is the FUTURE!! LOCK HIM UP!!

Navycross
Navycross

Way too much for someone who has not won a title or lead his team even to a title chance at either the college or pro level. Typical Detroit signing, all show and nothing more. 1-22 against teams who finish with a winning record, someone said stats can be skewed? I don't care who you are, show me another QB in the NFL making that kind of money with that kind of record. Winning team or not, he still is the only player on offense that touches the ball on every play and is throwing to a HOF receiver. Inexcusable the excuses people make for this kid.

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

That "shoulder" injury never leaves my mind if I'm Detroit-brass, but back-to-back (relatively) healthy campaigns for Matthew has them feeling good.  Terrific QB arm ("Jedi-like connection" good), 'guts galore (remember Browns game few years ago) and '"regression" (COMP% & TDs (20 (12) v 41 (11)) was evidently explained away.  Good move on Stafford extension.

Now, pass on the Suh distraction and use that money to shore-up the O-line & D.

flamiemcflamerpants
flamiemcflamerpants

Anybody can skew statistics to make them relevant to your argument.  One win against winning teams? Can that really be put only on Stafford? Considering that the Lions have had a spotty defense for years, and are finally starting to plug those deficiencies. Last year, they lost their #2 and #3 receivers, while not having a stellar RB (Leshoure did an average job) and he STILL THREW FOR ALMOST 5000 YDS.   He threw over 700 times last year, which in ANY year, is an insane amount for a QB.

Last season was technically his 'sophmore slump'.  It was only his second season starting all 16 games.  He made some dumb throws last year (thinking of the Rams game initially).  He understands that he must become a better student of the game, so he's devoted himself to becoming better this off season, spending the whole off season in Detroit at the Lions facility.  

Why don't people actually factor in coaching or plays called when they make stupid articles like this? Linehan called some of the dumbest plays last year.  I watched every single Detroit game (painful as it was), and some of the things Linehan does makes me scratch my head.  

I wonder if people actually know he almost became the first QB to throw for 5000 yds in back to back seasons?  Or that he's thrown for 60 TDs the past two seasons?  He is the best QB the Lions have had in decades, and you'd be joking to think that any team in the NFL wouldn't want to trade for him if they could. He's still got phenomenal room for improvement, considering he's a 5000 yd passer while only 25, and he's got the best WR in the NFL. 

This is a completely different case than SANCHIZE.  He's started every game for four years, and has regressed as a player ever year. 

djp9
djp9

I know its a knee jerk on the surface opinion country now but you have to look at in its totality. How many of you who are BASHING the idea of this contract would have beat on Baltimore for signing Flacco to the deal they were negotiating last year BEFORE he won the SB. Virtually EVERYONE was bashing them when the articles about the negotiations were up last summer. PUHLEEASE!! (that's on purpose in case you don't get it the first time)

I know this isn't a place for rational thought is it but here goes.

 What ISN"T written above is the following. Stafford and Suh are under the old collective bargaining Rookie contracts which in themselves are Albatrosses. This means, for those not very astute in this area that these guys have second contracts coming that will end up being outrageous as it is. Their single year franchise amounts would also be astronomical. He was already paid as a top 12 QB under his rookie deal,this simply brings him up to #6 for the time being. With Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford and others coming up for new contacts during the life of this deal he will end up back out of the top 10 by the end of the contract.

Also as noted this gives the Lions cap relief from the deal to help build the team now. This team has had a serious talent and depth deficiency for years now. 

Regarding the wins against winning teams. How many of those teams WERE .500 or above when the Lions played them and how many were UNDER .500 BECAUSE the Lions beat them. Unless you can answer those two questions it's a misleading stat. As Winston Churchill said, there are lies, there are damn lies then there are statistics.

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

Matters what metrics are used here.  Last year Stafford was #2 in yds/game, behind only Brees - Flacco was #16 with 71 less yds/game.  Stafford was #18 in completion %age, just ahead of Flacco.  I mention Flacco since he just signed a megadeal.  So I think the Lions see the talent there if he can stay healthy.  If the Lions can run more, it should help with Stafford's accuracy by not passing so much.

KidHorn
KidHorn

QB is by far the most important position. With the rules making it difficult to cover receivers, an accurate QB is unstoppable. Is Stafford worth the money compared to comparable QBs? No. What other option do the Lions have at QB? Nothing that I'm aware of. I guess they could take a chance in the draft and hope they get a QB that can replace Stafford in a couple of years, but they need to fill a lot of holes and who knows what the replacement QB would cost when he's up for renewal.

LaurentLejeune
LaurentLejeune

Haters gonna hate.

Sure Stafford beat only 1 team with a winning record but it's not like he was playing for a complete team like the 49ers, Ravens, Falcons or Ravens. Heck, his team went 0-16 the year before he was drafted.

He reminds me of Marino, who is now widely recognized as one of the best QB of all time yet never managed to win a SB with weak teams.

Stafford is only 25 years old and has already proven he can fling it with the best of them. That kid has a bright future. There are worse QB to build your franchise around.

bmyfive
bmyfive

The Lions have more money than smarts.

Fifilo
Fifilo

This is a 'sanchize' nove.

Joe R2
Joe R2

That's a lot of money for somebody that has ONE career win against winning teams

John4
John4

I was thinking $53 Million over five years, then I thought how cool it would be (for Stafford) if the $53 Million were over four years, then I opened the article.  Three years and $53 Million?  You cannot be serious.  Then I got a kick out of the Tony Romo like statistic of Stafford only beating 1 team during HIS ENTIRE CAREER that finished the season with a winning record.  This gets $53 Million?  Aaron Hernandez got a $40 Million contract.  (And has less than 2000 career yards over three seasons)!  That $43 Million over 5 years for the very productive Victor Cruz is beginning to look like money well spent.  This $53 Million is WASTED money.  Of course it's the Lions, why would it be any other way?

For the plethora of Lions' fans out there, no hating or any of that nonsense, just telling it like it is about the ONLY NFL team in history to go 0-16.  It is what it is.  

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

Another moronic contract. A guy who has won nothing, went 4 and 12 last season, who ought to be fighting to keep his job gets a massive extension. Once again I would like to point out that the number of teams that have won a Super Bowl with a QB who was, at the time, making $20 million per season, is ZERO. The Lions are locking in mediocrity for the long term. If they used the $30 plus million they are handing Johnson and Stafford they could have filled a number of positions.

etech01
etech01

@Navycross If the lions  "d"  could've stopped anyone in the 4th qrt last year the lions are 9-7. You cannot pin every loss on Staffords shoulders. 

etech01
etech01

@Navycross UNBELIEVABLE    you don't realize who is making Johnson an HOF receiver !!

Put Shawn Hill in for Stafford and watch Megatrons numbers plummet !!!   

flamiemcflamerpants
flamiemcflamerpants

@Navycross How many ELITE QBs in the NFL won a college title? Brady? Either Manning? Flacco? Brees? Cam? RG3? Wait! You mean TEBOW!

So every QB who's team wins a title should get elite money?  You're saying that Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer should get max money because they were QBs on Title winning teams?

You put any top tier QB on the Lions and they would all have the same record.  Put Stafford on any start studded team with great Defense, and it's another story.  

Your ignorant view that the 1-22 record solely rests on the shoulders of one person on a 53-man roster (with coaches making dumb decisions [ Schwartz and Turkey day]) is the reason why your argument doesn't make any sense. 

newshamg
newshamg

@djp9 Minor point but that quote is not from Churchill. Mark Twain popularised it though he wrongfully attributed it to Disraeli.

nfinitwordsfoto
nfinitwordsfoto

@LaurentLejeune The offense on the Lions was most definitely not to blame.  They were a top 5 unit without much of a running game to speak of. 

It's hard for people to pin that record on Stafford, last I saw he doesn't play cornerback or safety. 

mugzbo
mugzbo

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius 

 CJ81 is worth every damn dollar. I'm no Lions fan but I'm a fan of skill and talent and Calvin Johnson is the real deal. The man has proven to be the best WR in football.

You can't say the same for Stafford. Yeah, they could be using the extension money they gave him to fill some voids but don't lump CJ into the same mistake category that the Lions made here with Stafford.

Michael E
Michael E

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius Stafford didn't go 4-12 the lions went 4-12.  I know the quarterback is the face of any football team, but the truth is Stafford alone is not the reason the Lions when 4-12.

John4
John4

@mugzbo I think the idea is that the Lions overpaid.  Is Stafford a very good QB?  Yes.  Is he a great QB?  No.  When the Lions offered $53 Million over just three years, how quickly did Stafford accept that offer?  Immediately?  I imagine he did.   Would Stafford very likely have signed for $55 to $60 over four seasons?  Of course he would.  The Lions offered about $3 Million per year too much.  $3 Million per year can sign a very good player in free agency.  

John4
John4

@etech01 Actually, you CAN pin lots of losses on Stafford's shoulders.  More accurately, you can pin the losses on the type of offense run by the Lions.  If your offense is highly pass oriented, and has little chance of being productive when running the ball, the consequence is that you don't use up too much clock.  As a result, your own defense is on the field a greater amount of time.  The longer the defense is on the field, the more they wear out.  The Lions need to improve their running game (it was one of the NFL's worst in 2012) so the defense can be on the field less.  

etech01
etech01

@John4 @mugzbo 

If the lions  "d"  could've stopped any one in the 4th qrt last year the lions are 9-7 you cannot pin every loss on staffords shoulders

mugzbo
mugzbo

@John4 @mugzbo 

Nah, my problem with Wily's comment is that he said they could've devoted the money they gave Calvin Johnson to fill other positions. Stafford is a pretty decent QB, he can certainly throw it but I just don't see the elite potential there even with CJ (and the refs) there being your safety net. Calvin Johnson deserves the elite-money contract he got and with the Lions' excellent track record of picking WR's in the draft, who can blame them for locking CJ up?

I won't blame Stafford for not being able to win against a winning team because he can throw 5 TD's every game but if your defense is as terrible as theirs, that isn't going to help you. That money probably had Stafford salivating so yeah, he must've signed it with the quickness and who can blame him? The money the Lions' could have used on Stafford could've been used to filling up their "secondary", if you can even call it that.