The Detroit Lions made headlines this past week with the signing of Matthew Stafford to a three-year/$53 million extension. The deal brings Stafford’s entire contract to five years and $76 million, and it locks him up through the 2017 season. It’s safe to say, the Lions are all in on No. 9.
There’s been a lot of reaction both ways on this extension, and I fall on the positive side. This is a good thing for the Lions franchise, simply because Stafford has proven that he’s the real deal. Even though there are some clear weaknesses in Detroit, you can definitely say that quarterback isn’t one of them. We’ve seen enough of Stafford to know that he’s a franchise quarterback. Maybe he won’t ever grow into a top-five player at his position, but he’s definitely good enough to get his team to the mountain top.
All you have to do is take one look back at the Lions’ QB history over the past 15 years, and you’ll see exactly why this extension makes sense. The last QB that most people considered legitimate in Detroit, was Scott Mitchell back in the late 90’s. (He played alongside Barry Sanders the last time the franchise was relevant.) Since 1997 and Mitchell’s departure, seven different QBs have led the team in passing for a season. It took them six players and over a decade to get to Stafford, so I really don’t blame them at all for locking him up long-term.
Franchise quarterbacks are almost mandatory to win big in the NFL, so the Lions did what they had to do, to ensure they’d keep theirs for another three seasons.
Follow Andrew Fisher on Twitter