Things change pretty fast in the NFL. After Patrick Mahomes signed his massive extension on Monday, it looks like things are going to continue to change. Ten-year contracts don’t come very often. In fact there’s only been five other quarterbacks in NFL history to sign such long contracts. This extension makes Mahomes the richest pro athlete in America. Ten years, potentially $503 million. Good googly moogly that’s a lot of cash.
The only thing I could think about when the Mahomes contract was announced on Monday was how insignificant Matthew Stafford’s five-year, $135 million contract looks right now.
At one point in time the Detroit Lions quarterback was the highest-paid player in the NFL, and the takes were just uncontrollable. There were many who believed that Stafford did not deserve to be the highest-paid quarterback in the league, let alone the highest-paid player in the league.
It’s something that I can understand. Quarterbacks wins are not real but the perception is that only the teams that win should have the highest-paid players. And for the duration of Stafford’s mega deal, that hasn’t been the Lions.
What everyone forgets is that the NFL’s market is ever changing. Matthew Stafford was the league’s highest-paid player from August of 2017 to February of 2018. Not even a full year. Now he’s the sixth highest-paid player in the NFL in terms of overall contract value, he’s 14th in terms of annual salary and he’s the 89th highest paid pro athlete in America.
It’s amazing how things have changed from August of 2017 to July of 2020. The big contract extension that Stafford got is now looking like a discount compared to the big contracts players are getting now. One has to wonder if Stafford will be one of the last players to get a deal like his. Is the 10-year deal going to be the new normal?
It’s hard to tell right now. Mahomes just got his big deal. Will Dak Prescott get a deal similar to that? What about Lamar Jackson and so on?
This all had me wondering. What will Matthew Stafford’s next contract look like? That big deal he signed is almost up. In 2023, the Lions will have to sit down and work up a new deal for Stafford if they choose to keep him. What will that look like?
It should be obvious that Stafford isn’t going to get a 10-year deal. He’ll be 35 years old when this deal ends. Unless the Lions win the next three Super Bowls and Stafford discovers the fountain of youth, the Lions quarterback is probably going to get a short-term deal.
The best example of what Stafford might get is what Aaron Rodgers got back in 2018. At the time, Rodgers still had two years remaining on his deal. So if Stafford were to follow the same timeline, he could get an extension as early as following this 2020 season, especially if he puts out the type of performance that he put out in 2019 before a back injury ended his season prematurely.
Rodgers was a four-year extension worth $134 million. Theoretically, he’ll be a Packer until he’s 40 years old. This is the age that I have long believed Matthew Stafford will play until. If the Lions offered Stafford a four-year extension at the end of the season he would at least be a Lion until the age of 38.
$134 million seems like a good number to work off as well. With the way the NFL might be heading, that type of money would ultimately be a drop in the bucket. Judging by the way the Lions have with their money lately, they’d more than likely have it to pay out. Also 2021 looks like the best year to do the deal. With exception of Kenny Golladay, the Lions don’t really have any standout players that they need to spend high dollar retaining after this season.
If this isn’t the way the Lions go, the other route would be the Drew Brees route. Let Stafford play out his contract and then sign him to a two to three-year deal for $50-$70 million. Stafford would be 36 or 37 at the end of a deal like that.
Only time will tell where the Lions go with Stafford. But it’s a conversation that’s likely to happen sooner rather than later, especially if Stafford has a great 2020. With the NFL possibly moving in a new direction, it should be interesting to see what happens.