The Detroit Lions have made quarterback Matthew Stafford the highest-paid player in the history of the National Football League.
Stafford signed a contract extension worth a record $135 million.
“I’ve learned to embrace everything good (and) bad about the city. It’s not always perfect. But the fabric of this city is amazing and it’s a really tight-knit community.” — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford
Early in his playing career Stafford was known for possessing one of the strongest, if somewhat inaccurate, throwing arms in the NFL.
But over the past few seasons the former number one overall draft choice has tossed the fewest interceptions of his career, maturing into a franchise quarterback who twice led Detroit to the playoffs.
Months ago Stafford made no bones about the fact that he wanted to remain in Metro Detroit, where he and his family live year-round.
He even brought his wife and young children to the news conference announcing his historic contract.
“I’ve learned to embrace everything good (and) bad about the city,” Stafford says. “It’s not always perfect. But the fabric of this city is amazing and it’s a really tight-knit community. I’ve enjoyed my time. I know I’m gonna enjoy the next six years, and hopefully more after that, being a part of, not only this organization, but this city and this state.”
Stafford’s contract extension averages about $27 million annually and is designed to keep him with the Lions for at least the next half-dozen years.
But Lions General Manager Bob Quinn says the record contract deal does not take up so much of the salary cap that the team won’t be able to afford to surround the quarterback with enough talent to succeed.
“There’s more money to go around. And it’s my job and the scouting department’s job and our contract people’s job to make everything fit and field the most competitive team that we can,” Quinn says. “And doing this contract with Matthew was one step into a long process that we’re building. And we still have more room to grow.”
Quinn says injuries and other factors will have the team looking for possible new additions to the roster all the way up to the start of the season and perhaps beyond.
The team desperately needs to improve a pass rush that was ranked among the worst in the NFL last year.
The Lions start the regular season at home September 10th against the high-powered Arizona Cardinals.