Matt Stafford has agreed to a three year contract extension through the end of the 2017 season, that will play him a guaranteed 41.5 million more dollars, according to Adam Schefter. The total amount that he could make if he plays through the end of the contract is 53 million. Given the large amount of guaranteed money involved, this likely means he will be in Detroit through the end of that season.
That sounds like a huge number. It is a huge number. The NFL, though, is a hugely profitable sport and the rookie wage scale has opened up money for veterans that has to go somewhere, and teams are in an arms race to keep their quarterback if they think they have one. That number is likely to continue to rise as more quarterbacks hit free agency under the newer salary cap.
Joe Flacco just got a reported $120 million for six more years. In truth, it’s probably more like a four year deal for $80 million (technically, 15 million of the bonus money is an option at the start of 2014, which you would think Baltimore would exercise as long as Flacco is still the starter, and 7 million more in 2015). After that, the unguaranteed salaries jump to numbers in the 20 million range, from which Baltimore could walk away.
Matt Stafford just turned 25 this offseason, meaning he would be 29 in the final year of the deal. Almost $18 million is less than the price that teams are willing to pay for a franchise tag, and what they are willing to pay for an elite year from an established star (with a bad neck) like what Denver did with Manning last year. Matt Stafford has been a slightly above average to average starter through age 24, which usually would portend being better than that from age 25 to 28. Stafford regressed last year, and had a tendency to make some bad throws relying too much on his arm strength. Can he eliminate some of that and continue to work to develop consistency? That will decide whether this is a good investment.
The alternatives are to pay the next Matt Flynn type money in the 8 to 10 million range, or try to hit in the draft with the lower wage scale. Seattle is paying Russell Wilson a fraction of what other starting quarterbacks make. It is that factor which also makes me think that athletic quarterbacks who can run a read option offense are not going away; if the alternative is keeping up with the Joneses by paying a QB $20 million who isn’t one of the top 5 in the league, then who cares about long term longevity. Get production at a fraction for a few years, and move on.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]