Andrew Luck’s new contract a harbinger of things to come for Stafford

On Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck signed a lucrative 5-year extension. In the last year of his rookie contract, his new deal is scheduled to pay out an NFL record $140-million over the next six years with $87-million guaranteed. The longtime media darling is now locked up through 2021.

What does his contract have to do with the Detroit Lions? Sometime in the near future, the Lions will once again have to negotiate with their franchise QB. Matthew Stafford is in the second to last season of his own $56m extension that runs through 2017. There is no doubt, Stafford and his agent have their sights on this eye-opening deal.

Outside of Stafford and Luck being first overall selections in their respective drafts, they also share plenty of similar statistics. For example, both ascending QBs are tied for the fourth-fastest player to reach 100 career touchdown passes, only needing 55 games to do so. Both are on the short list–eight to be exact–of quarterbacks to ever throw for more than 40 touchdowns in a single season.

The biggest difference between the two may be their national perception. Luck has been labeled a prodigy and showered with relentless approbation since his days at Stanford, while Stafford has been second fiddle on a team with an all-time NFL great receiver.

Oddly enough, despite the disparity in attention, both of their careers are on similar paths. Stafford has been in the league for seven years to Luck’s four but is only 20-months older. Below are their career statistic averages in the major categories:

Career Average Matthew Stafford (2009-2015) Andrew Luck (2012-2015)
Comp % 60.9 58.1
Att/game 39.7 38.3
Yards/game 279.3 269.8
TD% 4.4% 4.8%
INT% 2.7% 2.6%
QB rating 85.8 85.0


Luck recently had his worst season of his young career. Many blamed the lack of run game and O-line inconsistency for his regression (something Stafford deals with on a yearly basis). Obviously, the Colts believe in Luck’s potential and are confident in him finding his 2014 form. In 2015, he only completed 55.3 percent of his pass attempts and committed 13 turnovers in seven games played.

On the other hand, Stafford had very special year in 2015 once under the direction of OC Jim Bob Cooter. The Lions signal caller is the only QB in the history of the NFL to have an above 60 percent completion rate in all 16 games. In the last eight games, Stafford connected on 70 percent of his passes for 2,179-yards and an impressive 19-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. If he can continue that success, expect him to get paid.

Former agent and respected NFL contract analyst Joel Corey projects Matthew Stafford’s upcoming extension will be the next to trump Luck’s pact – Read more

Speaking of money, Stafford is counting $22.5 million against the cap this year (7th largest hit in the NFL). Many feel that price tag is too high. In actuality, the Lions restructured his contract in 2013 so he was cheap at the time but back-end loaded. Strapped for cash, Detroit had no other option. Stafford really averaged $17.6-million a year throughout the entire term of his contract. That average yearly figure would put him at 18th overall amongst all of the NFL’s QBs–a much more team-friendly perspective–just more forgiving at the inception of his agreement.

2016 Quarterback Average Salary Rankings

  1. Andrew Luck – $24,594,000
  2. Joe Flacco – $22,133,333
  3. Aaron Rodgers – $22,000,000
  4. Russell Wilson – $21,900,000
  5. Ben Roethlisberger – $21,850,000
  6. Eli Manning – $21,000,000
  7. Philip Rivers – $20,812,500
  8. Cam Newton – $20,760,000
  9. Matt Ryan – $20,750,000
  10. Tom Brady – $20,500,000
  11. Drew Brees – $20,000,000
  12. Kirk Cousins – $19,953,000
  13. Ryan Tannehill – $19,250,000
  14. Colin Kaepernick – $19,000,000
  15. Jay Cutler – $18,100,000
  16. Brock Osweiler – $18,000,000
  17. Tony Romo – $18,000,000
  18. Matthew Stafford – $17,666,667
  19. Sam Bradford – $17,500,000
  20. Alex Smith – $17,000,000

Stafford was just recently on Pro Football Focus most overpaid QB list. If he is already overpaid, why would the Lions give him more? The truth of the matter is that franchise quarterbacks take priority and new GM Bob Quinn and head coach Jim Caldwell have been unwavering in their support. They understand Stafford’s value if he was to ever hit free agency.

Luckily for Detroit, the quarterback’s price tags have not increased at the same rate of the salary cap inflation. The NFL’s salary cap has increased 26 percent since 2013 and is only expected to continue growing. A couple years ago, the cap was only at $123 million, now it lies at $155.27 million. With all the extra money available on the market, the top QB salaries have only increased by a measly 5.9 percent in the same time period. Teams are spending money elsewhere.

Contract negotiations between the two parties will most likely not ensue until next offseason, but the bar has been set. If Stafford continues his upward trend, he has every reason to ask for Luck-type money, despite the lack of playoff wins. Who knows, maybe that could change this year. Even if it doesn’t, football is a team sport and the competent Stafford is doing his part.

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