Matthew Stafford Contract: Super Bowl Winner Takes Less Than He Deserves

Matthew Stafford won a Super Bowl for the Los Angeles Rams after years and years of toiling with the Detroit Lions. The Rams have rewarded him with a significant contract extension, but the new deal is a win-win for both parties.

Stafford is apparently not content with just one ring, as his new deal ensures that the Rams will be able to remain contenders for the time being.

Matthew Stafford signed a significant contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams

Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Stafford was due for an extension, so news of this contract signing is not necessarily a surprise. The Lions traded Stafford to LA just a few years after he signed a five-year, $135 million extension with Detroit. The 2022 season was the last year of that contract, meaning that up until today, Stafford was looking ahead at the last year of his contract in LA.

In actuality, that was never going to be the case. You don’t trade away two first-round picks for a quarterback you only intend to keep for two seasons. Even if that “out” was somewhere in the mind of general manager Les Snead when he made the deal, though, Stafford delivering a Super Bowl and playing the way he did basically guaranteed an extension.

Though he will be entering the 14th season of his career, as Stafford proved for much of last season, and especially in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl…he’s still got it.

Ian Rapaport reports that Stafford’s new extension is for four years, worth $160 million with $135 million guaranteed, though there are added years on the contract for cap purposes. Essentially, the contract is worth $129 million over three years when broken down without cap machinations.

Stafford took less money than he deserves to help the Rams

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams looks to throw the ball in the fourth quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Stafford had all of the bargaining chips on his side of the table when it came to this extension. 

The Rams have one of the best coaches in the NFL not named Bill Belichick in Sean McVay and he led them to a Super Bowl in his third season as head coach. He couldn’t get the job done with Jared Goff leading the way at quarterback, though, and the two seasons after that saw LA miss the playoffs entirely before losing in the Divisional Round to the Green Bay Packers in 2020.

McVay and the Rams needed an elite quarterback to get over the hump, which is why they went out and traded the farm away for Stafford. He wasn’t the only piece of the Super Bowl-winning formula of course (that guy Aaron Donald had a few things to say about it, and Cooper Kupp had a transcendent season), but he was the piece that gave the Rams confidence that they could win it all. 

Without Stafford, the Rams were a well-coached and talented team that would have been tough to meet in the playoffs, but ultimatly toothless. With Stafford, LA started the season off looking scary good, and the Rams ended it hoisting the Lombardi Trophy as Stafford threw for 1,188 and nine touchdowns with just three interceptions the postseason. He also rushed for two scores, bringing his total playoff touchdown count to 11.

With Aaron Rodgers, who hasn’t won a Super Bowl in over 10 years, just inking a three-year, $150.8 million extension and Deshaun Watson, who didn’t play at all last season and has 22 civil lawsuits against him, signing a five-year, $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns (all of it guaranteed), Stafford very well could have asked the Rams for a massive deal.

Rodgers’ annual salary will be $50.2 in Green Bay. Watson will earn $45 million annually from the Browns. 

Stafford, who again just won a Super Bowl, effectively just signed a contract that will pay him $43 million a year. 

The Rams are getting a discount on their Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

The Rams still have work to do this offseason in order to attempt a repeat

Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 and Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald #99 during the Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl LVI Championship parade | Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Von Miller has signed with the Buffalo Bills so one member of the Super Bowl core is gone. With that said, McVay, who might have flirted with retiring, has confirmed his commitment to the Rams and won’t chase a television deal. LA also signed wide receiver Allen Robinson, who effectively appears to be the replacement for Odell Beckham Jr., who is recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in the Super Bowl.

With Stafford locked up, Donald is the last piece of the puzzle that has to be worrisome to the LA front office. He is also considering leaving the sport as a champion, though his “run it back” chant spurred on by McVay at the Super Bowl parade may suggest otherwise. Still, even despite that moment, Donald was clear afterward that he had a stipulation for coming back, and that’s if OBJ and Miller came back as well and the Rams were able to keep the band together.

Miller is now with the Bills, and OBJ is still a free agent, so where does that leave the Rams with their all-world defensive tackle?

If Stafford took less money to help the Rams keep the Super Bowl window open, getting Donald paid and back in the fold is a good place to start using some of that wiggle room. The superstar defender is set to make just $9.2 million this year in base salary and only $14 million in the next two seasons, respectively. The Rams should do what they can to re-work Donald’s contact to make sure that he’s paid handsomely and happy to come back and do it all over again. 

Just call in a Super Bowl-winning bonus…

The Rams could also try to re-sign OBJ on the cheap, knowing that he may not factor into their 2022 plans but could rather be a long-term stash who maybe could be a playoff addition in the best-case scenario.

OBJ and any other potential moves aside, the Rams at the very least finally have stability at the most important position in the NFL. To make that even sweeter, by taking a team-friendly deal, Stafford has ensured that LA will be competitive not just in 2022 but that the Rams’ Super Bowl window will stay open for as long as possible — likely until he hangs them up. 

Stats courtesy of ESPN and Pro Football Reference. Contract information via Spotrac

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