Stafford the big winner with short-term deal

Did the Lions make the right move by signing Matthew Stafford to a three-year extension? Heck yes.

They got their quarterback locked up for the next five years.

And they will get some cap relief in the future, which they could use next year to extend Ndamukong Suh.

Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. If you have a quarterback, you have a chance. If you don’t have a quarterback, you become, well, what the Lions have been over the last half-century.

Boarding back and forth between horrible and mediocre.

Why did Stafford sign such a short-term deal?

Well, he has a little thing called a brain.

Stafford will get $43 million in guaranteed money. Which is serious coin. That’s all you really need to know about this deal. It’s $43 million guaranteed. And guaranteed money is all that matters in the NFL.

Five years from now, when this contract is done, Stafford will be young enough to sign one more big contract, either with the Lions or somebody else.

Also, if he continues to improve and takes the next step, he can always renegotiate and get another extension. Which would turn into another huge payday with more guaranteed money.

For Stafford, it looks like a win, win, win, win.

Which is exactly how many wins the Lions had last year. So I guess he is already ahead of the game.

Would it be better if this were a longer deal?

For the Lions? Yes. No question.

For Stafford? No.

Why would he want to sign a long-term deal now? If the Lions struggle next year, the whole coaching staff could be fired. So it makes sense on all levels.

What if Stafford gets injured? Wouldn’t it be smarter for him to sign the longest deal possible?

Well, he is taking a risk. Stafford could have a career-ending injury and not get to his next contract, which promises to bring him even more guaranteed money. But come on. He just signed a deal and got $43 million.

It’s not a huge risk. In the end, either he will be super rich. Or insanely rich.

Why didn’t Stafford make Joe Flacco money?

Well, he isn’t Joe Flacco. Stafford hasn’t won the Super Bowl. And he isn’t Aaron Rodgers, either. But I do think he’s better than Tony Romo. And Romo got $55 million guaranteed over seven years. So this deal is even better for him, considering Stafford will probably get another payday.

Is Stafford perfect?

No. Early in his career, he suffered from Porcelain Doll Syndrome.

But those concerns are gone. He has proven to be tough and durable.

His numbers went down last year, so there is definitely room for improvement. Room for growth. But he certainly has the potential to become a top-tier, if not elite, quarterback. But clearly, he’s not there yet.

Who else benefits from this deal? Calvin Johnson.

Johnson is tied to the Lions until his legs fall off.

At times last year, it seemed like the Lions’ best offense was when Stafford just threw the ball up to Johnson. Didn’t matter whether he was double teamed. Didn’t matter whether he was tripled teamed. And that tandem will only get better with time and an improved running game.

So, overall, how have the Lions done this off-season?

OK. Now I don’t want to get all sugary here, but it’s been a very solid off-season for the Lions. Lions president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew have made some very shrewd decisions.

I liked their draft. I liked their free-agent pickups. And I like this deal. Everything seems to be moving in the right direction. Everything makes sense. The roster isn’t perfect, but it’s improving.

So what’s next?

Stafford needs to be better. He needs to take the next step. He has an amazing arm and has the potential for greatness.

For this team to climb to the next level, Stafford needs to be more consistent. More accurate.

And if he does that, one thing is certain. He’ll get even more money.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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