$135 Million Worth of Expectations Now on Lions’ Stafford (Win a Playoff Game?)

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 1:35 PM UTC

Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 1:35 PM UTC

The biggest news in the NFL this week was the five-year, $135 million contract extension agreed to by quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Can Stafford live up to that in 2017?

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Let’s preface this story by stating that NFL contracts aren’t worth the paper they are written on for the most part because there aren’t fully guaranteed like in Major League Baseball or the NBA. So when I tell you that quarterback Matthew Stafford agreed to a record-breaking five-year, $135 million extension with the Detroit Lions on Monday, those numbers aren’t actually accurate. The key numbers are that Stafford will receive a $50 million signing bonus with $92 million guaranteed.

The guaranteed number is the highest in NFL history, surpassing that of $87 million given to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The average annual value of the contract (asterisk!) of $27 million also is the highest ever, surpassing the five-year contract that pays $25 million annually to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. It’s not like Stafford was struggling financially before this as he made $110,778,969 in his first eight seasons with the Lions was due another $16.5 million in salary for this season. But the Lions didn’t want to mess with the franchise tag after this year as that’s when things can get contentious. Just ask Kirk Cousins about that.

Is Stafford, the former No. 1 overall pick out of Georgia, a good quarterback? Good, not elite. He led an NFL-record eight fourth-quarter comeback wins in 2016 and has had three of the best seasons of his career under current Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. Stafford also is just 51-58 as a starter in the regular season and 0-3 in his playoff career. To be fair, he took over a team that went 0-16 in 2008 and was a total mess.

Twenty-five quarterbacks have thrown at least 2,000 passes since Stafford entered the league in 2009. He ranks 19th with a completion percentage of 61.5, 16th with a passer rating of 86.8, 17th in yards per attempt at 7.1 and 13th in interception percentage at 2.5. I would argue Stafford is closer to Joe Flacco than Aaron Rodgers – and the Ravens haven’t been the same since overpaying Flacco after he led Baltimore to a Super Bowl win.

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Heading to backyard to loosen up the old arm after reading news on Stafford deal....... 🤑🤑🤑 #PutmeinBA pic.twitter.com/DRcfi2GYQY

— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@P2) August 29, 2017

Believe it or not, the extension frees up approximately $5 million in cap space in 2017 for Detroit. The Lions haven’t won a division title since 1993 and aren’t likely to do so in 2017. At Bovada, they are given a wins total of 8, with the under a -180 favorite. To make the playoffs a second year in a row, they are +300 with no at -400.

Stafford is given totals of 4,200.5 passing yards and 25.5 TD passes at BetOnline. Stafford has exceeded that yardage total each of the past six seasons, not coincidentally playing all 16 games in each -- his 96 consecutive starts is a franchise record for a quarterback. Stafford has surpassed the TD total three times.

Since 2011, Stafford has accounted for 79% of the Lions offense, the most by any player in the league. His best season was in ‘11 when he set career highs with 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. Stafford had arguably the NFL’s best receiver back then in Calvin Johnson, now retired. Now his starters are Golden State and Marvin Jones Jr. Meh.

Stafford likely keeps the highest-paid player honor for just this season. The Packers’ Rodgers, Falcons’ Matt Ryan and Redskins’ Cousins are all up for extensions – with Cousins potentially hitting free agency next summer.

NFL Free Picks: ‘Over’ Stafford Totals, ‘Under’ Lions WinsBest Lines Offered: BetOnline & Bovada
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