Stafford’s new deal was driven by his first deal

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Reaction to the contract to be signed (if it hasn’t already been) by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been mixed.  Initially characterized as a “blockbuster,” the truth is that it’s worth far less than the $20 million-per-year contracts signed in 2012 by Drew Brees and earlier this year by Joe Flacco.

Some view the five-year, $76.5 million package as too light, with an annual average of $15.3 million.  Some view the deal as too heavy, given that Stafford has yet to establish himself as a durable, short-list franchise quarterback.  (Indeed, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski recently put Stafford at No. 16 on Jaworski’s annual ranking of starting quarterbacks.)

Either way, it doesn’t matter.  Stafford’s current deal was driven in large part by the contract he signed in 2009.

Four years ago, the NFL had yet to implement a rookie wage scale.  His cap number already was north of $20 million for 2013, and he was due to earn $23.5 million over the next two years.  With a cap number that would have been $19.3 million in 2014, Stafford’s franchise tender for 2015 would have been $23.16 million.

Thus, if the Lions wanted to keep Stafford, they were going to pay him $46.16 million over the next three years.  He’ll now get roughly $43 million over the next three years.

But Stafford, if he were willing to push it (and to continue to accept the injury risk), could have opted for a year-to-year approach beyond 2014, with the franchise tenders in 2015, 2016, and 2017 quickly spiraling out of control.  Under the labor deal, Stafford would have made $27.792 million in 2016 and $40.02 million in 2017.

That works out to $113.972 million over five years, or $37.475 million more than the total value of his new five-year deal.

The difference is that Stafford had no (or at least minimal) remaining guarantees on his rookie contract.  If he suffered a catastrophic injury, he would have been out of luck.  Under the new contract, Stafford positions himself for more than $40 million guaranteed, to go with more than $50 million he already has earned.

Then there’s the competitive aspect.  By pushing his cap charges to the limit and beyond, Stafford would have made it harder for the Lions to put a team around him.

I don’t play this game to get contracts,” Stafford said last month. “I play this game to win games and that’s the way I’ve always felt about it.”

At that point, it was clear that Stafford wasn’t inclined to make a maximum cash grab, even though his rookie contract gave him that ability.  It’s the same rookie contract that has allowed him to get much more than some would say he deserves based on his overall performance to date.

32 responses to “Stafford’s new deal was driven by his first deal

  1. Well yeah it makes sense. Mayhew was all-in from the get go and this is an extension of that. It’s throwing more bad money after the good money that already did not get capitalized on for a profitable return. Just not a statistically logical strategy play. It’s the safe, conservative, and inside the box way, and not the optimal way for maximum possible upside.

    And that kind of attitude is why we aren’t sniffing being the champions.

    We do however have some impressive youth and a foundation to build off of, but we still have some serious 2014 cap concerns to counter that benefit that will need to be addressed. That’s part of the reason for this deal too, to set up opportunities to get that next year cap number down which is already way over budget.

  2. So you’re saying he could have opted to get Franchise every season? That paragraph confuses me.

  3. When you factor in the cap space the Lions borrowed from Stafford by restructuring him and kicking the can, it’ll average out to about $18,7M a year in cap hits – which is all that counts. Over 5 years, that’s almost an extra $20M in cap space that they’ve already used, borrowed from future space, that they won’t have going forward. Same with Suh and CJ. They could have done something different but Leland and Mayhew wanted to win to keep their jobs.

  4. No mixed reactions here in Detroit. We all love him and very excited to have him for 5 more years. He’s been hated on since day one. Not making the pro bowl after his 5,000 yard 40 TD season he had a few years to go is an example. People who blame it all on him last year is stupid, we had a lot of issues but our qb WAS not one of them.

  5. I’m really glad that Stafford is our quarterback and it really doesn’t matter to me or most other Lions fans what the rest of you think about his contract. He’s WAY better than the 16th best quarterback in the league. Jaws is foolish for that one. Never mind the fact that last year his offensive line wasn’t very good, his 2, 3 and 4 receivers were out, his number 1 running back was out and his number 2 running back wasn’t fully recovered from an injury. Oh yeah and remember how Megatron was playing with injuries including broken fingers?
    Get your shots in now while you still can because you clowns won’t be saying any of this stuff once this season gets rolling.

  6. I really like this kid ; he’s been injured at times , but seems pretty tough to me , usually won’t come out of a game unless they either pull him out or he just can’t go. Stands in the pocket and will wait to the last possible moment to throw the ball , then get creamed as it’s caught for a big play downfield. I look for Stafford and the Lions to bounce back in a big way this season.

  7. The short plumper’s first contract averaged $13 mil per season. His first two years he went 3-10 with a 54 % completion rate and a passer rating of 67. 19 Td, 21 Int.

    Gabbert’s first two seasons – 5-17, with 54% completion rate, passer rating of 70, 21 Tds 17 Int. At an average of $3 mil per season.

  8. Why do the Lions keep giving more money to a QB who has never and will never win anything???? Stafford hasn’t earned his first contract so let’s give him more??


    Guess it’s just the Lions being the Lions.

  9. koolaidcircusbeast says:
    Jul 9, 2013 8:32 PM
    I’ll say it again, chubby here is only 1-23 against .500 teams.


    Stafford played all those games by himself? You are what is colloquially referred to as a “hater.”

  10. That’s a lot of money for an mediocre QB who leads his team to a whopping 6 wins a year average. BREAKING NEWS : the Lions will continue to stink until 2017.

  11. When your QB is 1 win AND 23 LOSSES against teams with a winning record. You have a QB problem.
    Stafford without CJ would be a WAY below average QB, heck he is barely average with the best wide out in the game.
    The only thing better that could happen in the NFC North is Ponder getting a huge contract as well.

  12. Love this kid. He is all about being the best. Don’t know if he will ever be, but with his talent and attitude, Lions fans can’t ask for anything better at the moment.

  13. Stafford seems to get banged up a lot. Eventually, he’s going to stay down. This might have been a mistake unless there is an injury clause.
    Anyway, are robots on Fox Sports intro/outro commercial breaks related to RoboCop?

  14. ugh. let me get this straight. tony romo signs a 6 year deal for 106 million with 55 million in guarantees and everyone goes ballistic. ESPN bashes the deal, NFL network bashes the deal, players like mcnabb come out and openly oppose it, and everyone on the internet and on this website(writers included, not just commenters) talk about what a terrible deal it is. the lions turn around and give stafford a 3 year extention worth 53 million with 41 million guaranteed and a 27 million dollar signing bonus and no one bats an eye. its flat out irritating. if this extension were turned into a 6 year deal the way romo’s deal was, it would be worth 106 million with a little over 50 million guaranteed. its literally the same contract. i really am a stafford fan, i think he will end up being a top 5 quarterback in this league, but this is a flat out double standard. stafford hasnt beaten good teams, hasnt had playoff success, and is entering his 5th season. not to mention hes had serious injury problems over the years, and over the 3 seasons hes actually played healthy, hes thrown 53 interceptions. thats not including fumbles. romos never thrown that many in any 3 year stretch of his career. its okay though everyone, by all means ignore logic and facts and say this is a good deal and theres nothing wrong with it.

  15. He’s thrown for over 10,000 yds over the last 2 regular seasons and hasn’t even hit his prime. He’s younger than Kaepernick and a few months older than Wilson.

  16. He doesn’t play for a contract. Really? Then take 6 years 36 million but that would be still too much. Dude has the greatest receiver in the game that’s why stats are huge. Never won anything and never will.

  17. Regardless of what the haters say, this was a good move by the Lions. Stafford has once again demonstrated his dedication to Detroit and I’m glad they locked him up.
    I can’t wait for the season to start!

  18. Delighted he will remain in the ever-so-competitive NFC North!

    Can’t wait for Thanksgiving Day!

  19. Its easy to categorize anyone that criticizes Stafford as a hater but reality is Lions fans are disillusioned by Stafford simply because they haven’t had anyone better…well ever. My prediction is Stafford will keep on giving you what you want…decent fantasy football stats…lots more losses.

  20. Stafford isn’t overrated. He’s rated right where he should be at right in the middle of the league as a starter. I can see why the Lions paid though since he fills up the stands and for his potential.

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