Lions to pay Stafford $27 million a year
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.