The Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford have agreed to a five-year contract making the quarterback the highest-paid player in NFL history, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Oakland’s Derek Carr currently holds that title with his five-year, $125 million deal.
Although Stafford has been one of the most successful signal-callers in franchise history, no franchise grades on such an easy curve. He’s earned just one Pro Bowl selection in his eight seasons. Last year — his first without Calvin Johnson — was a pleasant surprise. Utilizing an efficient Jim Bob Cooter scheme, Stafford posted a career-high 70.5 QBR, authored eight fourth-quarter comebacks, and led the Lions to the playoffs.
Stafford’s ascendency to the top of Salary Mountain is, of course, more about the state of NFL quarterbacking than his actual value. The Lions must overpay for the 12th or 13th best arm in the league because the alternative is complete irrelevance.
Finding another quarterback of Stafford’s quality — either through the draft or via trade — is a difficult proposition. The Lions figure they’d rather have five years of Stafford than a replacement, even if it costs an arm and a leg. And, look, that’s just the way it is.
Stafford won’t be the highest-paid player for long. The next competent quarterback to come up will benefit from a similar market and likely exceed $27 million a year. Like it or not, that’s the price of getting a QB in the top-third (or close to it).
There are precious few sure things when it comes to the quarterback position. Stafford, though not elite, is a sure thing as he’s proven over eight years in Detroit. Good payday, if you can get it.