Has Stafford lived up to his contract so far?
In August, Stafford signed his lucrative contract extension, making him the highest paid player in NFL history. Just so we’re clear, this one seems a little more stable than Jim Caldwell’s “contract extension” turned out to be.
With an additional 5 years and $135 million invested in Stafford, it’s a fair question to ask. Are the Lions getting what they paid for?
This isn’t going to satisfy anyone, but basically the answer is both yes and no.
Obviously, missing the playoffs isn’t the desired outcome from the highest paid player in the league. If 9-7 isn’t acceptable for Jim Caldwell, then it isn’t acceptable for Matthew Stafford either. Caldwell was fired because Bob Quinn felt that he’d reached his ceiling. In awarding Stafford this contract, he must feel that Stafford is still on the way up.
In 2017, Stafford was unable to lead the Lions back to the playoffs. He wasn’t selected to the All-Pro team and didn’t lead the league in any statistical category.
With that said, try to imagine the current Lions team without Matthew Stafford. In 2016, they would have been fortunate to win three games without him. In 2017, they probably wouldn’t win more than five or six.
Stafford continues to build a greater command and orchestration of the game to complement his arm strength and competitiveness. He had arguably his best season as a pro in 2017, despite a non-existent run game and a revolving door offensive line. He led Detroit to another winning season, and the franchise as a whole continues to be trending upward.
The thing about a long-term contract is that it’s LONG term. Stafford has another four years to start bringing in the type of return on investment that the club is looking for: playoff wins and maybe a Super Bowl.