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Matthew Stafford could end up being the NFL’s most prolific passer, ever

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Matthew Stafford is on pace to set the record for passing yards in a career, but will he do it, and is any younger player a threat for the top spot should he secure it?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another installment in SB Nation’s topic for the week: Records Week. Today, it’s an examination of the Detroit Lions’ current starting quarterback, the face of their franchise, Matthew Stafford. Ever since taking over the reins as the starting quarterback of a team that went 0-16 the previous season, the team has had no problem making use of Stafford’s incredible arm talent often, and the numbers just keep racking up.

As Stafford enters his 10th NFL season, he’ll come into the 2018 campaign with 34,749 passing yards, good for 29th overall among passers in the league’s history. With only nine active NFL players ahead of Stafford—and he’s the youngest of the bunch—there is a legitimate chance for him to end up with the NFL record in career passing yards, but will he get it done?

Right now, the answer to that question is, of course, potentially. Stafford is on pace to throw for the most passing yards in league history should he stay on this current statistical trajectory. Throwing out his 2010 season where he played just three games, and tossing out two outliers on each end of the spectrum (2011 where he threw for 5,011 yards and 2009 where he threw for just 2,267 yards), Stafford has thrown for an average of 4,484 yards per season.

If he puts together another 10 seasons at that clip, at the ripe age of 39, that would leave him with 79,589 yards, a number that should get him to the top of the list. Things like injuries or when Stafford was to decide to walk away from football would obviously throw things for a loop, but a reasonable extrapolation based on his career up to this point would suggest he could amass enough yards.

There are, however, a couple of active players who stand a chance at challenging Stafford for the record. Matt Ryan has put up 41,796 yards through ten seasons. Tom Brady, 40, could end up playing until he’s 45. He’s currently sitting at 66,159 career passing yards, and another five seasons of play at even a modest figure could put the record out of reach for some time. And then there’s, of course, the NFL’s current active leader in passing yards, Drew Brees. Should things go according to plan for Brees and the New Orleans Saints, 2018 should see a new passing yards champion anointed. Brees, who currently sits just 1,495 yards behind the current leader, Peyton Manning, should easily surpass that number during this season.

However, there are plenty of things working in favor of Stafford having a clear path to the record. While Matt Ryan has thrown for over 7,000 more yards than Stafford in just one more season of play, Ryan is almost three years older than his good friend and fellow conceiver of twins, John Matthew. Brady playing for another five seasons would literally be the dumbest, most aggravating thing to happen in a long time, and as I type this about a million fans of AFC East teams’ collectively roll their eyes in the back of their heads because I don’t even know what aggravating means when it comes to Tom Brady—to clarify, Bills Mafia would be rolling their eyes in the back of their heads to pay homage to The Undertaker. And Drew Brees isn’t a young pup by any means either; he’ll be 40 by the end of this season.

If there were two players who pose a legitimate threat to Stafford, one of them, in my estimation, would be Brees. He seems like he could continue his high level of play for at least a season or two more, and that could potentially put the record out of reach for Stafford. The other is Patrick Mahomes because, you know, duh.

What do you think, folks? Is Stafford going to sit atop the mountain of those who threw forward passes for a lot of yards in the NFL or not?