Dear Football Gods,
Please speed up time. I’m so ready for the NFL Draft. I think everyone else is too. After all, we found ourselves questioning the worth of Matthew Stafford again this week.
This time all the talk is about Stafford’s expected contract extension. How much will it be? When will it happen? These are things we don’t know.
I’m okay with those questions. That’s a normal thing. Where I began to get a little bent out of shape was when the talk of a “hometown discount” began. This talk started up again this week after Stafford seemed to suggest he isn’t interested in giving the Lions any extra cap space.
Stafford: Every year teams find good ways to put good teams around quarterbacks— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) April 18, 2017
First of all, I don’t think any athlete should ever take a hometown discount, especially a high profile player. Athletes have such a finite amount of time to make their money and they’d be foolish to leave any of it on the table. Especially when you consider that the large majority of players never get a shot at a big deal.
Second of all, this man needs to get paid, and he will. In fact, I believe the Lions will make Stafford the highest paid player in the NFL this summer. Here are three reasons they should:
The player he is becoming and has been
In a perfect world, a quarterback’s worth is only measured in wins and championships. But we don’t live in that world and football is a team game.
So what you have to go on in this game is ability and star power. Stafford may not have the wins on his resume, but he is wildly talented and is a rising star in the national eye.
For the talent alone, you have to pay the man. It’s not hyperbole when you hear analysts say that nobody can throw the ball like Stafford. It’s a legitimate claim. The things this man can do with his arm make him a very special player.
Let’s also not forget that the world is changing. Matthew Stafford is one of the “elite” quarterbacks now. And with guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers aging, there’s a good chance Stafford will hold down that title for a while. Remember, he’s still only 29 years old.
There is nothing better
There hasn’t been anything better in a long while. Since Stafford has been drafted, there have been 84 quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft. Only 15 are starters.
And these are some of the most inconsistent names you can think of. Players like Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill, Blake Bortles and Andrew Luck. That’s not exactly the 1983 draft every year.
Only one (Russell Wilson) of those 15 quarterbacks has won a Super Bowl as a starter. Prior to Wilson, Joe Flacco was the most recently drafted quarterback to win the Super Bowl. Magical quarterbacks aren’t just sitting around waiting to be drafted. There is no unicorn land with Super Bowl quarterbacks just waiting for the Lions call.
Quarterback is becoming a major issue for many teams. Just look at the Rams. They selected Jared Goff with the first pick last year. He wound up starting seven games and looked like a potential bust in all of them. There are some potential Goff’s in this upcoming draft as well. Outside of Mitchell Trubisky, there a bunch of quarterbacks that may not even hear their name called until Day 2. The Lions don’t want to be on that train for a starter.
But then there’s free agency. The current game teams like to play is called “sign the backup.” Brock Osweiler, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Matt Flynn are all perfect examples of how this doesn’t work. The last thing the Lions need to do is drop their Pro Bowl quarterback to be the team that tries to make Jimmy Garoppolo the next Steve Young or Aaron Rodgers. Sometimes the backup is just the backup. In fact, that’s the case almost every time.
Because if they don’t, somebody else will
Don’t kid yourself, you may have been one of those guys that’s down-talked Stafford for eight years. You may be the guy that said, “He hasn't won anything.” In the end, that’s not going to matter one bit.
Teams need quarterbacks. If Matthew Stafford hit the market, it would be an all-out bidding war. There are general managers out there right now that would chop off their left arm and cut their starting quarterback to pick up Matthew Stafford. You think anyone’s jobs would be safe with a guy like that on on the market?
The Lions haven’t won anything in their history, but it’s not because of Matthew Stafford. If you put the man on a team that hadn’t been run like Blockbuster Video for 50 years, he’d be winning you rings. I don’t care what anyone says. I’ll say that any day of the week.
Matthew Stafford is the Lions’ best chance to win the big one. He’s their best chance to at least have moderate success. Any team with a bank account can see that he can be that for them, too. So here’s hoping the Lions pony up the dough.
Having said all of this. I have no doubt that the Lions are going to empty their wallets. Frankly, they have no excuse not to. Unless Bob Quinn and company have plans to strip the team for parts and start over again—which I don’t think they do—they will get this deal done.
My guess is it happens during or before camp. What’s your guess? Be sure to leave your comments below.