Last night, after weeks of posturing and negotiating, the Lions agreed to a deal with Matthew Stafford, the 21-year-old who is hours away from becoming the first pick in the NFL Draft and a multi-millionaire. According to multiple reports, Stafford will receive $41.7 million guaranteed as part of his six-year, $72 million deal with Detroit, a team owned by the Ford family, which also happens to own a pretty big slice of a failing auto company.
How much money is Stafford’s deal worth? Well, when you put it in the context of other highly compensated NFL stars, the numbers are still positively startling:
- Albert Haynesworth’s record-setting $100-115 million deal with the Redskins earlier this offseason contained $41 million in guaranteed money, less than Stafford’s deal.
- Tom Brady’s six-year deal — signed in 2005 — is worth $60 million, a full $12 million less than Stafford’s pact.
- Peyton Manning’s seven-year, $98 million deal — signed in 2004 — contains $34 million in guaranteed money, less than Stafford is getting.
- Jay Cutler is still playing on his original six-year, $47.86 million deal. That’s $24 million less than Stafford will be earning, and Cutler’s an All-Pro.
Amazingly, the numbers Stafford is getting when compared to other recent highly picked quarterbacks is equally startling.
To put Stafford’s money in the context of quarterback draft pick deals, the former Bulldog will make just less than $7 million more guaranteed than Atlanta’s Matt Ryan will receive for a nearly identical deal last year, when Ryan was the No. 3 pick. Stafford and Ryan’s deals are worth $11 million more than Jamarcus Russell’s deal with the Raiders, and a whole $22.5 million greater than Alex Smith’s deal with the 49ers.
Is Stafford a better prospect than any of those passers? With the exception of Smith, that’s doubtful. To pay Stafford more guaranteed money than Brady or Manning is ludicrous. And that’s before you consider the fact that Stafford will make more money that Cutler or Matt Cassel, both of whom the Lions could have traded for with the first pick during the offseason.
So why did the Lions stick with the pick? Clearly, they’re buying the Stafford hype, while also seeing an opportunity for future marketing and a way to break with last year’s dismal failures. That’s precisely the type of scenario that could overwhelm a young passer like Stafford, too.
Good think he’s got $41.5 million to fall back on if things go south quickly. Somehow they always seem to in Detroit, don’t they?