Detroit Lions: Fans claiming Matthew Stafford is overpaid are misguided

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

NFL quarterback salaries are skyrocketing. Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s contract should be valued as a “team-friendly” bargain.

One major gripe among jaded Detroit Lions fans is that Matthew Stafford is overpaid, and because of his lack of success in the wins column isn’t worth pesos. The claim is unwarranted and doesn’t take into account the fact that Stafford will be the 13th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL this season.

According to Spotrac, his cap hit for 2020 carries a value of $21,300,000, which trails closely behind Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr ($21.5M) and Indianapolis Colts backup Jacoby Brissett ($21.375M).

Surely, fans can agree they would prefer Stafford as a signal-caller instead of each quarterback previously mentioned. His passing talent alone should prove that he’s a surefire starter in the league, as he’s managed to have moderate success despite playing for one of the worst franchises the league has to offer.

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Pro Football Focus provides that during the 2019 season, the often criticized Stafford, graded out second among passers whose teams were playing from behind with an overall score of 82.8.

The mark trailed only Seattle Seahawks franchise cornerstone Russell Wilson (91.7) for the highest-rated grade.

He keeps the team in games and gives them a chance to win each week on a consistent basis.

Stafford does this even though the Lions defense rarely is capable of turning that fairytale into a reality. Most times, fans are left wishing upon a star when it comes to watching the Lions organization.

So why isn’t Stafford appreciated by many in the Detroit Lions faithful? Fans claim to unite under the ideology of “#OnePride”. However, it seems a significant divide exists in the Motor City.

This summer buzz began circulating that Detroit was looking to move on from Stafford, the franchise quarterback they picked first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. In response, team executives and coaches quickly took the media to dispel the notion that the rumors were true.

Do Lions fans really believe the team would be better off moving on from Stafford?

Even though a recent league-wide poll conducted by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler determined that executives, coaches, scouts, and players around the league considered Stafford a top-ten QB heading in 2020?

In the article, an unnamed executive went as far as blaming Detroit for failing to build a competitive team around Stafford and suggested the gunslinger is “a major talent who’d probably be a top-five quarterback with an established franchise. He can score from anywhere on the field.”

"“Most everyone agrees Stafford’s arm is top-five level. He was on pace for nearly 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns before a back injury cut his 2019 season short. He was phenomenal from inside the pocket, with a league-leading 82.7 QBR, 66.2 completion percentage, 8.8 yards per attempt, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions.”– Jeremy Fowler, ESPN Senior National NFL Reporter"

Another major knock-on Stafford is that he’s always injured and leaves games. He has missed 19 games since being drafted in ‘09. According to, those games were missed due to a back tailbone fracture last season in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders.

As well as a lingering shoulder A/C joint separation that plagued him during his first two seasons in the NFL along with a knee patella dislocation. With the severity of those injuries, what Lions fans genuinely believe they are tougher than Stafford and could have played through the pain?

Smart money suggests not many, if any, at all. He continued attempting to play periodically through those injuries and has gutted it out through other lingering issues such as ankle sprains, as well as finger fractures and dislocations.

By now, surely, Stafford has to have earned your respect.

No? You say that you don’t value a quarterback who plays hurt and has missed just 11% of his career regular-season games despite playing behind one of the league’s consistently-terrible protection units?

Detroit Lions running game and offense around Matthew Stafford has not been ideal.

Don’t even get me started on a running game that has only produced three 1,000 yard rushers since Barry Sanders retired on the eve of training camp in July 1999.

You can’t consider a rushing attack to be “complementary” when the last guy to hit the millennium mark in a season was former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush back in 2013.

At any given point in time, Stafford could have chosen to sit out because of these injuries and far worse left as a free agent when his last contract expired. However, he’s loyal and dead set on winning in Motown.

The positive impact he has on this team was apparent last season while watching the entire team suffer throughout the second half of the season without him.

Did anyone stop and consider why the Lions were in a position to select a pick so high during this year’s NFL Draft? This isn’t the NBA, and there is no draft lottery. The team was awful when he landed on the injured reserve.

At the very least, Stafford should be given your respect. If this quarterback hasn’t earned that by now, either you never played football or should do some serious soul searching. Metaphorically, each week he takes his licks and comes back, asking, “may I have another.”

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Resting my case in his defense, I now transition to the role of judge and jury while slamming down my gavel and profoundly declaring, “Matthew Stafford is worth the pesos ladies and gentleman.”