The Detroit Lions are rumored to be closing in on a 3 year $43 million contract extension with Quarterback Matthew Stafford. The former number one overall draft pick out of Georgia is the franchise quarterback that the team has been searching for decades, however he is yet to enter the conversation as one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. The contract is nowhere near the money that an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady commands, but is he worth that big of a commitment by the Detroit Lions?
Several concerns exist in terms of Stafford’s abilities to sustain his position as the team’s quarterback of the future. Injuries plagued the early part of his career for instance. Stafford missed six games as a result of injury in his rookie season, and suffered a season ending injury after his third game in his sophomore season. Although he has played the entirety of the last two seasons, injuries have to be a concern for man the Lions are paying so committing so much money to.
The largest concern for Detroit Lions regarding Matthew Stafford has to be the roller coaster ride his performances have taken throughout his career. The last two seasons provide a crystal clear example of the highs and lows he has experienced thus far. 2011 saw a career year for Stafford, he passed for over 5,000 yards, and 41 touchdowns. Last year he fell back down to Earth, his yardage totals stayed relatively the same, however his touchdown total was less than half of what it was in 2011 (20) and his interception total rose to 17.
Last season saw Stafford spread the ball around significantly less than he had in 2011. Calvin Johnson posted a career year, largely thanks to Matthew Stafford failing to target anyone else in the offense. Spreading the ball around is key to an NFL offense sustaining its efficiency, and Stafford will have to improve in that respect if he wants to prove he is in fact worthy of the money the Lions are reported to be giving him with this contract extension.
Perhaps a larger concern was the emergence of an even more quirky delivery than he had shown previously in his career. Always throwing with a bit of a sidearm delivery, his mechanics took a significant step backwards, and his sidearm delivery became even more pronounced than in years past. The result was not evident in the yardage or completion totals, however it makes it more difficult to throw over the lineman. His passes were batted down at the line of scrimmage more often than in years past.
The Detroit Lions making a major investment in Matthew Stafford despite questions regarding his abilities to truly be a franchise quarterback has precedent. The Baltimore Ravens set the bar by giving Joe Flacco a massive contract, even though few agree with his belief that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Matthew Stafford may not be worth the $43 million that the Lions are going to give him, however he is one of the few reliable pieces on their roster. The team was 4-12 with him last season, however they feel he has the potential to join the league’s elite. Rather than let him walk and make themselves start their seemingly perennial rebuilding process start over once again, the team paid their quarterback enough money to keep him in Detroit for the foreseeable future.
Only time will tell if the Lions were right to give $43 million to Matthew Stafford.
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Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express