With Kirk Cousins’ non-deal out of the way, all eyes are on the Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford to reset the quarterback market. The Lions are optimistic a deal will get done in the next two weeks (see: before training camp starts) and as of now, there haven’t been any reports of a snag between the two sides.
But there has been little speculation as to what kind of deal Stafford may get. Derek Carr set the bar earlier this offseason by inking a five-year, $125 million contract back in late June. His $25 million per year average is the highest of any player in NFL history and the new mark for quarterbacks.
Many, myself included, thought that Stafford would only see an incremental raise from that, say $26.5 or $27 million per year. But Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer brought up an interesting point that shows Stafford could very well be getting over $30 million per year:
Stafford’s franchise tag number for 2017 is $26.4 million, which means the total to tag him twice would be $58.08 million and makes it reasonable for him to ask for a deal closer to $30 million per.
In other words, if Stafford held out and accepted the franchise tag for the next two seasons, he could get $29 million per year over the next two years. That money is essentially guaranteed. So if the Lions wanted to give him an upgrade from that, they would have to up the guaranteed money over the first two years of his extension, or just offer him an average salary above that, which leads to the $30 million figure.
This is the exact conundrum that caused negotiations between Cousins and Washington to break down. Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports explains:
The telling breakdown: Cousins’ new deal would have paid him $53 million guaranteed over the first two seasons. The problem? If the Redskins intend to keep him, that’s basically the same amount Cousins is getting no matter what: this year’s franchise tag ($23.9 million) plus the 2018 transition tag ($28.7 million).
To put it more precisely, the Redskins offered Kirk Cousins $324,080 more in guaranteed money than he is already slated to get under the next two tags. For that $324,080 in extra money, Cousins would be trading off any shot at free agency and also locking in four additional non-guaranteed contract years of his prime.
It was an easy decision for Cousins to shoot down that offer, especially since his transition tag number next year is insanely high—if Washington wanted to use the franchise tag for the third time in a row, it would cost them $34.5 million.
Stafford doesn’t have quite as much leverage, though. Detroit’s tag number is only $26.4 million for 2018, which is more than manageable should negotiations break down. That essentially gives the Lions an extra year of negotiations that Washington no longer has. Still, it seems likely that if a deal gets done between Stafford and the Lions, it will be much closer to $30 million than $25 million.
Is Matthew Stafford worth $30 million per year?
This poll is closed