Matthew Stafford’s Contract Becoming Major Value for Lions

Matthew Stafford

Getty Matthew Stafford playing against Cleveland in 2017.

A few years back, Matthew Stafford signed a massive contract extension with the Detroit Lions which made him one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Now, Stafford has slipped considerably on the list of highest paid players at his position in the league.

A new list showed off by Field Yates shows Stafford is no longer within the top 8 of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league. In fact, Stafford isn’t even within the top 10. He sits on the outside of that at spot No. 12 in terms of the AAV of his current contract.

At the time, many were wringing their hands about the deal and how Bob Quinn got it done. Stafford was near the top of the league in AAV for his contract, yet had not made strides toward winning in the regular season or playoffs. While the same is true now a few years down the road, Stafford’s contract might actually make him a value for the team moving forward. Either he manages to start winning big and becomes a transformational player at a cheaper price, or the Lions can eventually pull the rip cord on the deal if things don’t work out with smaller consequence.

It’s hard to knock the Stafford deal now in hindsight. Even as Detroit has struggled with Stafford the last few seasons, the value on the deal has only gotten better to the point where the Lions paid in the beginning, but might be rewarded on the back end, either with a veteran quarterback who puts it altogether, or a player who isn’t that hard to get rid of if things don’t work out.

Obviously, the hope is the former plays out for Lions fans and not the latter. No matter what happens, though, Stafford’s once much-maligned deal is only getting better for the team now and in the near future.

Matthew Stafford Trending Upward in NFC North

Can Stafford be the best quarterback in his own division this coming year? If CBS Sports analyst Sean Wagner-McGough is to be believed, that answer is a resounding yes. Recently, Wagner-McGough put together his list of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league for 2020 and Stafford made the list at No. 7 overall.

It wasn’t just because Stafford is healthy again after a lost 2019 season. According to Wagner-McGough, the quarterback’s talent as well as his new offensive system and the weapons he has at his disposal helps to combine to make him one of the best players in the league at his position. In fact, Wagner-McGough thinks Stafford will be the top quarterback in his own division.

He wrote:

“It continues to fly under the radar that Stafford was on pace to throw for 4,998 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2019 before an injury ended his season after eight games. At the time of his injury, Stafford ranked second in touchdown passes, fourth in yards per attempt, fifth in passer rating, third in DYAR, fifth in DVOA, and seventh in total QBR. Freed from the constraints of the Jim Bob Cooter offensive system that focused more on short passes and playing in a Darrell Bevell system that allowed him to use his arm talent to throw downfield, Stafford thrived.

With Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones still around, and T.J. Hockenson entering Year 2, Stafford is poised to pick up where he left off. Assuming he can stay healthy this time around, Stafford has a legitimate chance to put together the best season of his career. He’s never been better equipped to do so.

That’s why he’s ranked seventh on a list that doesn’t include Aaron Rodgers. I think he’s going to be the best quarterback in the NFC North in 2020.”

If healthy, this could easily be the case. Rodgers seems to be on the decline with the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears have an uncertain situation and Kirk Cousins has been average at best since joining the Minnesota Vikings. With this in mind, Stafford has a chance to step in and put up some numbers in addition to leading some big winning on the field.

Stafford has never won the NFC North, but he has the talent to do so if he is able to unlock everything in a vital season. That’s just what many analysts are predicting happens when all is said and done.

Analyst Revealed Matthew Stafford’s Potential 2019 Numbers

Recently, ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky took a stab at projecting what Stafford would have done if not for a back injury midway through the season. As he showed, Stafford was well on track to perhaps having an MVP level season with the Detroit Lions. It’s possible that Stafford would have gone for over 5,000 yards passing with 38 touchdowns had he not been hurt.

Obviously, Stafford started out on a tear, and was a big reason the Lions had a decent start to the year. It’s not a surprise their fortunes tanked when the team was forced to go without him. The Lions finished a woeful 3-12-1 without Stafford.

Heading into 2020, though, these stats provide some hope that Stafford might be primed for big things this coming season. No matter if that is the case or not, Stafford’s contract will only get better into the future for the team.

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