Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford Can Thank Calvin Johnson For His $53 Million Extension

By Ryan Heckman


Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of days after the Detroit Lions gave quarterback Matthew Stafford a three year, $53 million extension I have begun to ask myself yet again: Why?

Sure, Stafford has shown a lot of promise in respect of being a long-term franchise quarterback.

Well, actually, no he hasn’t.

In four years as a pro, Stafford has only played two full seasons. His best year came in 2011 when he threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns, finishing with a rating of 97.2.

In 2012, he followed that performance up by finishing with less than half of his touchdown total from 2011 and a rating of 79.8. Somehow, the Lions thought that after these two seasons he was worthy of being the next quarterback to get paid.

In case you were wondering, Stafford played only 10 games in his rookie year finishing with a rating of just 61.0. As a sophomore, he only appeared in three games before suffering a season-ending injury.

Why on earth would Detroit take such a gamble? What makes them think that 2011 wasn’t a one-hit wonder? He’s got a great arm, yeah, but what else? He’s shown he can be tremendously inaccurate especially when he isn’t chucking the ball up to All Pro Calvin Johnson.

Without Johnson, what is Stafford, really? I’ll tell you: Mediocre.

Imagine if Stafford didn’t have a guy like Johnson on his side. He’d be forced to create great wideouts with what he had — something only the best can do. He’s not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, so why do the Lions think he can be?

I’m utterly confused by this deal, but I guess this is what it has come to. With the NFL becoming a quarterback driven league, mediocre quarterbacks are getting paid. Just ask Tony Romo and Joe Flacco.

Oops, did I offend some of you Romo and Flacco die-hards out there? I apologize, that argument is for another day.

In the end, I guess the Lions had no better option other than to lock down Stafford for a while because there truthfully aren’t any better options at this point in free agency, nor would it be worth trying to build on a rookie in the next couple of years. Stafford and Johnson have a clear chemistry and it would be tough to mess that up.

Thus, Stafford got himself paid even though he truly did not deserve it.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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