In a year where Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers signed new deals with the franchises that drafted them, Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions has joined them, signing a three-year contract extension that will tie him with the Lions through the 2017 season.
In my opinion, this deal makes Stafford overrated.
The deal’s value is $53 million in new money and $43 million in guaranteed money. That is a lot for a quarterback who has only made the playoffs once in his four seasons in the league. Especially when you consider the injury history he has had in his career.
Look, Stafford is a good quarterback. I do believe the Lions made the right decision by locking him up. But at that price, the deal creates a situation where fringe or mediocre quarterbacks become overpaid.
The fifth-year veteran has turned into a lethal quarterback at times over the past two seasons, passing for 5,038 yards with 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2011 to lead the Lions to the postseason with a 10-6 record. The team took a major step back with a 4-12 record in 2012, but Stafford still piled on the numbers yardage-wise with 4,967 yards with 20 touchdowns, but 17 interceptions.
This new deal has sparked conversation as fans are still conflicted as to whether or not Stafford is one of the top quarterbacks in the game or if he is just a product of playing with the best wide receiver in the game in Calvin Johnson. I believe he is more of the latter.
Stafford has physical gifts that few quarterbacks have in the sport, but he is still very inconsistent with his footwork and tends to lean Johnson making incredible catches in double coverage, and even triple coverage at times. It’s almost as if Johnson stunts the growth of Stafford, who has elite potential, but hasn’t done the little things to get there yet.
To help Stafford, the Lions added Reggie Bush in the offseason, so it will be interesting to see if the quarterback is able to lean on the running game a little more and let the ground game be his best friend. Stafford has never had a consistent running game to go to, but that doesn’t matter now. He will be judged by his contract just like every other quarterback in the NFL.
Stafford was given a new deal because the Lions believe he is their franchise quarterback and will carry them for years to come, so there won’t be many excuses not to get it done from here on out.
Regardless of public opinion on Stafford’s contract, this will also be a big year for Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. How Stafford plays from here on out will ultimately decide Schwartz’s fate, and I’m not sure if Stafford’s deal is worth going through all of that.