Column: With NFL quarterbacks, mediocrity deserves to get paid

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford looks downfield during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots in Detroit on Aug. 25, 2017. Stafford has agreed to a five-year extension with the Lions. (Rick Osentoski/AP)

Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions is a career 51-58 quarterback who has been responsible for just three winning seasons in his eight years in the NFL.

Matthew Stafford has played in three playoff games, going 0-3 with four touchdowns and three interceptions.

Matthew Stafford signed a five-year contract on Monday night which will pay him an average annual value of $27 million, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

Matthew Stafford is underpaid.

Whenever an “average” quarterback receives an abnormally high pay-day, NFL fans freak out. Last month it was Derek Carr, whose $25 million per year contract made him the league’s highest-paid player until Stafford’s new deal outdid him. A few rounds before that, Joe Flacco claimed the richest contract.

Realistically, these three quarterbacks aren’t even in the top five of the NFL, and perhaps only Carr would make the top 10 list. However, that doesn’t mean they’re overpaid.

There is a lot of star power coming out of Dallas. #SCFacts

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In the aftermath of the Stafford deal, much was made of the comparison of his contract to that of his former high school teammate and current MLB ace, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is baseball’s highest-paid player this season, but the money guaranteed in his contract is twice the amount of Stafford’s.

Newly-signed NBA free agent Jrue Holiday, by no means a top 10 point guard in the league, will get paid over $25 million per year, just under Stafford’s NFL-best deal.

The comparison between sports might not hold much weight because the NFL has more players to pay; NFL rosters are twice as big as the MLB’s and three times the size of the NBA’s. A better argument for player value is easily made by the performance of NFL teams.

About a third of the teams in the NFL don’t have a franchise quarterback, and a handful more are nearing the end of their respective starter’s era. Ask fans of the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers about the value of a competent quarterback. Relatively young guys like Stafford, Carr or Flacco are what every franchise wants, even if they’re not the most talented.

Take the Houston Texans for example. Houston has a top five defense, an extremely talented wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and solid offensive weapons around him, but there is next to zero chance of them winning the Super Bowl this year because of their lack of a quarterback.

Without a quarterback capable of winning, or in Stafford’s case, capable of going around .500, there is nothing for fans to get excited about. Only the hope of next year’s draft and the potential star quarterback that comes with it is keeping Jets fans content.

For a country in love with football, there’s too much complaining about quarterbacks getting paid. Matthew Stafford’s contract is not only justifiable, it’s required for an NFL team to win. The importance of quarterbacks is always underappreciated, and Lions fans should be thankful for what they have before they’re forced to start Christian Hackenberg in an NFL game.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.