Li­ons to pay Stafford $27 mil­lion a year

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

to sus­tained suc­cess. He’s dra­mat­i­cally raised his com­ple­tion per­cent­age and low­ered his in­ter­cep­tion rate in re­cent sea­sons, and he ranks as one of the league’s lead­ing iron­men with 96 straight starts.

Last year, the Li­ons be­gan the sea­son 9-4 and lost their fi­nal three reg­u­larsea­son games af­ter Stafford sprained the mid­dle fin­ger on his throw­ing hand. He de­clined what would have been his sec­ond Pro Bowl ap­pear­ance as an al­ter­nate to rest his in­jured fin­ger.

“Even though you’ve seen him play well, I think you’re go­ing to see him play even bet­ter,” Li­ons coach Jim Cald­well said ear­lier this spring. “He’s got an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of abil­ity, not only just in terms of what he does from a phys­i­cal stand­point, de­liv­er­ing balls from dif­fer­ent an­gles and things of that nature, but then also from a lead­er­ship stand­point, which I think is equally im­por­tant and he demon­strates that.

“He’s taken own­er­ship of what we do and how we do it and I think that cer­tainly without ques­tion bodes well for the future.”

Stafford, who was sched­uled to make a base salary of $16.5 mil­lion this fall on the ex­ten­sion he signed in the sum­mer of 2013, al­ready has pock­eted more than $110 mil­lion in ca­reer on-field earn­ings.

His con­tract now be­comes the stan­dard by which other quar­ter­back deals will be judged. Wash­ing­ton’s Kirk Cousins will be a free agent af­ter this sea­son af­ter he failed to reach a long-term ex­ten­sion be­fore the fran­chise tag dead­line July 17, and Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are other quar­ter­backs who could be up for ex­ten­sions soon.

Be­fore this sum­mer, An­drew Luck was the high­est paid quar­ter­back in the NFL at $24.6 mil­lion per sea­son. Luck re­ceived $47 mil­lion fully guar­an­teed at the time he signed his con­tract, and $87 mil­lion in over­all guar­an­tees.

For­mer Li­ons de­fen­sive tackle Ndamukong Suh set an NFL record with nearly $60 mil­lion in im­me­di­ate guar­an­tees when he signed with the Dol­phins as a free agent in 2015.

For the Li­ons, Stafford’s con­tract con­tin­ues a re­cent his­tory of hand­ing out sum­mer con­tract ex­ten­sions un­der Quinn.

Last year, the team signed Dar­ius Slay, Theo Rid­dick and Sam Martin to ex­ten­sions when they were about to en­ter the fi­nal sea­son on their con­tracts, and in July, the Li­ons inked Glover Quin to a two-year con­tract ex­ten­sion.

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