The Lions and Matthew Stafford have agreed to a five-year extension that will make the quarterback the highest-paid player in NFL history, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms (via Twitter) Stafford’s deal surpasses Derek Carr‘s per-year value.
It’s a five-year, $135MM deal for Stafford, Rapoport tweets. That comes out to $27MM per year in new money, putting Detroit’s franchise passer well north of Carr’s $25MM AAV.
This ties Stafford to the Motor City through 2022, and the Lions — per this GIF on their Twitter account, making it official in unique fashion — are pretty excited about it
Stafford and the Lions have been in talks for much of this offseason, and he now has a third Lions contract in place. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press said (via Twitter) Stafford underwent an MRI earlier today, noting that represented the final step between the signal-caller and the landmark accord.
The Lions quarterback’s contract will raise the NFL annual salary ceiling more than Carr or Andrew Luck‘s deals did, with Carr’s per-year value coming in less than $500K per year more than the Colts passer received in 2016.
Bob Quinn said earlier this month he was confident the sides would reach an extension agreement, and the second-year GM now has his quarterback signed into the next decade. Stafford was entering his contract year. He’s on the Lions’ books for $22MM this season. Detroit entered Monday night with just less than $7MM in cap space, and Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets Stafford’s re-up is expected to create approximately $5MM in 2017 space.
Stafford has been the Detroit starter for the past eight seasons, and while he doesn’t have the accolades or the numbers the league’s top-tier quarterbacks do, he had leverage going into a contract year in an extreme sellers’ market. The 2009 No. 1 overall pick has made one Pro Bowl, in 2014, and has a 5,000-plus-yard season (2011) on his resume. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards as well. The Lions are also just 51-58 during Stafford’s tenure, but the quarterback capitalized on being a prime passer with leverage.
The Georgia product, though, shook the injury concerns that plagued him in his early 20s. After playing in just 13 games combined in 2009-10, Stafford has suited up for every Lions game since. While he’s yet to win a playoff game, he helped the franchise out of its 2000s abyss and guided Detroit to playoff berths in 2011, ’14 and ’16 after the franchise went 11 seasons without a playoff berth.
This deal represents major news for the next crop of quarterbacks who are in or nearing contract years, and the financial landscape’s shifted to point where $30MM AAV will not be an outrageous figure in the near future. Considering the cap could push $180MM in 2018, the quarterback market figures to further escalate.
Kirk Cousins could become a free agent next year, and Drew Brees‘ year-to-year arrangement with the Saints will require another contract if he’s to stay in New Orleans. Matt Ryan will enter 2018 in a contract year — if no extension is reached in 2017. Aaron Rodgers‘ deal expires after the 2019 season. So does Tom Brady‘s, if he’s intent to play through that point.
And this group of (largely) more accomplished players saw the bar raise considerably Monday night.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.