By: Will Burchfield
The Lions made Matthew Stafford the highest-paid player in the NFL on Monday with a five-year, $135 million extension.
The deal, which will pay Stafford $27 million per season, set league highs for both signing bonus ($50 million) and guaranteed money ($92 million).
When the news broke on Monday evening, Twitter lit up. Stafford’s fellow players gave him a collective tip of the cap, starting with his tight end, Eric Ebron.
Former Lions backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who has always defended Stafford from his critics, said Stafford is worth every penny of his new deal.
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson joked he’s considering a switch to quarterback in light of Stafford’s payday. Peterson will get a first-hand look at Stafford when the Lions and Cardinals square off in Week 1.
Within the media, there were those suggesting that Stafford actually cut the Lions a deal. Had he held out and forced the team to use the franchise tag on him through 2020, he would have made more money per year.
It’s hard to dispute Stafford’s personal numbers. The 29-year-old has thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of his six full NFL seasons. He also hasn’t missed a game since 2010.
Stafford has a career 51-58 record and has never won a playoff game, but he’s rarely been the crux of the issue for the Lions.
Then again, Stafford has struggled mightily when the going gets tough.
Stafford is now set up to make more money than perhaps any player in NFL history. He’ll be up for another contract before he turns 35, at which point he’ll have earned more money than Tom Brady has over the course of his Hall-of-Fame career. Think about that.
Most fans seem to agree that the Lions had little choice when it came to locking up Stafford long term. Quarterbacks of his ability are hard to find in the NFL.
It is now up to Stafford to prove that he’s worth the investment.
Stafford won’t hold the title of the NFL’s highest-paid player for long. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins are all in line for new deals over the next year or so.