- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Matthew Stafford is a good, productive quarterback who has never won a playoff game. The Detroit Lions, because or in spite of this, locked up their signal caller through 2022 with a five-year contract extension reportedly worth $135 million with $92 million guaranteed Monday night. 

Next year, this will be good news for Kirk Cousins as Stafford’s deal, which makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history, resets the market for quarterback pay by surpassing the $25 million average annual value in Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s deal from earlier this summer. 

Right now, it just makes the Redskins’ offer to Cousins this spring look silly. After the deadline passed for the two sides to reach a long-term deal, Redskins President Bruce Allen said the team made Cousins an offer including $53 million guaranteed. In other words, oh, just a cool $39 million less in guaranteed money. 

Here’s the thing: The Cousins deal wasn’t as good as the one Carr got, and the Stafford deal shows how a market-value offer would have needed to be much better because of the leverage created by the franchise tag. 

Carr was set to make $1 million in salary this season before his extension. Stafford was set to make $16.5 million this season and would have cost the Lions $26.4 to use the franchise tag on him next season. It’s no coincidence that the average annual value of Stafford’s new deal, $27 million, is just over the tag value. That $26.4 million figure likely set the salary floor in negotiations. 

The Redskins will have to pay Cousins $28.7 million under the transition tag or $34.4 million with yet another franchise tag. At the very least, the transition tag figure should have set the floor in negotiations. The Redskins offer came in at about $21 million per year. No deal. 

Stafford’s deal provides another illustration of what should be obvious by now: The highest-paid player in NFL history is going to be the most-recently paid starting quarterback for some time, until the market adjusts to the importance of the position in today’s pass-crazy game. Maybe the Redskins will figure that out next year, but there are 53 million reasons to be skeptical. 

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