The title of highest-paid player in the NFL is ever-changing, but Matthew Stafford has a chance to claim the ultimate financial status.
The Detroit Lions quarterback is expected to get a new contract in the near future with his current deal set to expire after the 2017 season. Both player and team have openly expressed a desire to stay together, with Lions president Rod Wood admitting he’s ready to do “whatever it takes” to get a deal done.
The phrase should be music to the ears of Stafford’s agent Tom Condon and the news out of Oakland on Wednesday likely plastered a smile across his face.
The Raiders and Derek Carr are reportedly close to finalizing a contract that would pay the young quarterback around $25 million per season, which would make him the highest-paid player in the game – for now.
With escalating contracts and salary caps, the highest-paid player in the league is a temporary status that Andrew Luck is expected to give up to Carr, who will in turn cede it to the next quarterback in line. In this case, Stafford.
But making Stafford the next highest-paid player in the league would really just be another lucky break for the field general in his fortuitous career.
As Stafford was the top player selected in the last draft that did not include pre-determined salary slots, the Lions passer got off to a great financial start to his career and has never looked back.
According to Spotrac, Stafford has already earned over $110 million over his eight years in the NFL.
If we conservatively guess Stafford’s next contract will be in the same range as Carr’s at $25 million per season over the next five years, Stafford will have made more than $235 million by age 34.
Despite putting up good-but-not-great statistics through most of his eight years, Stafford’s earnings will surpass many of the current greats’ total career earnings on his projected new contract.
Whether or not Stafford is worth this money is a separate conversation, but there’s little denying the 29-year-old has been able to take advantage of the timing of his career and the skill set he possesses.
You can’t fault Stafford for accepting what’s been offered to him, and having played through torn ligaments and dislocation in his finger, you can’t say he’s just taking the money and running. While he may never double the accomplishments of a Brady or a Manning on the field, Stafford may always have something to hold over their heads.
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