Matthew Stafford arrived in Detroit with two goals: Lead the Lions to a Super Bowl victory, and don’t become the Lions’ latest draft bust. Although Stafford and the Lions are still waiting to hold the Lombardi Trophy, the veteran gunslinger and former No. 1 overall pick has certainly grown into a fantastic NFL quarterback.
Matthew Stafford is one of the greatest Lions in franchise history
For a quarterback with a career losing record, Matthew Stafford has turned in an impressive 11-season career. Stafford has completed 62.5% of his passes for 41,025 yards, 256 touchdowns, and only 134 interceptions in 149 games. That is despite Stafford missing most of his first two seasons with various injuries.
Although Stafford hasn’t won a playoff game yet, he has nonetheless led the Lions to three postseason appearances. That alone may make him the best quarterback in Lions history.
Football-Reference’s Approximate Value system measures Matthew Stafford has been worth 118 AV. That ranks third in Lions history behind legendary running back Barry Sanders (150 AV) and Lem Barney (121).
Stafford has been better than people may think
Matthew Stafford has earned over $204 million in his 11 seasons, according to Over The Cap. Stafford had one of the last extreme rookie contracts and signed a six-year, $72 million deal with the Lions in 2009.
Matthew Stafford signed a five-year, $135 million contract extension with the Lions in August 2017. Stafford received $92 million guaranteed and has a place on the Lions’ roster until 2023, his age-35 season.
Although his overall career numbers may seem paltry, Stafford has been worth every cent the Lions have paid him. He helped revive one of the NFL’s worst franchises and has been a mainstay in the Lions’ starting lineup for a decade.
Although Stafford often pads his stats, his overall play and leadership make him one of the greatest players in Lions history.
Matthew Stafford‘s 118 approximate value ties him with the likes of Tiki Barber, Joe Flacco, Phil Simms, and Jason Witten, among others, for 217th all time. Stafford needs to reach 138 AV to join the league’s top-100 players.
Football-Reference uses a different Approximate Value when determining how valuable Stafford has been for a No. 1 overall pick. Stafford still ranks 16th all-time, one point behind Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith.
Only nine players selected with the No. 1 overall pick have been worth at least a 100 approximate value and seven are quarterbacks. Longtime Bills defensive end Bruce Smith (147 AV) and Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace (104) are the exceptions.
How much longer will Matthew Stafford be Detroit’s starting quarterback?
Unlike NFC North rival Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford didn’t welcome a draftee into the Lions’ quarterback room during the NFL draft’s first two days. Although several online mock drafts speculated the Lions could draft a quarterback early on the draft’s second day,
Detroit instead added Georgia running back D’Andre Swift and Notre Dame pass-rusher Julian Okwara on Friday.
The Lions could opt to add Stafford’s eventual heir Saturday, though that may not come until the draft’s later rounds. Detroit signed veteran journeyman Chase Daniel earlier this offseason and still have Stafford signed long-term.
Barring a significant injury, it seems unlikely the Lions will rid themselves of Matthew Stafford anytime soon. There is too much of a financial obligation to part ways with Stafford, especially as he continues producing at a high level.
Detroit hasn’t made the postseason since 2016. Matthew Stafford but he, and the Lions, know he won’t be in the Motor City forever. For now, though, Stafford has been everything and more the Lions wanted him to be when they drafted him 11 years ago.