Earlier this offseason, the Oakland Raiders set the bar for quarterback contracts with a five-year, $125 million deal for Derek Carr. Now, only days before the start of the 2017 season, the Detroit Lions have set it even higher with a five-year, $135 million deal for Matthew Stafford.
The #Lions and QB Matthew Stafford agreed on a 5-year extension worth $135M, source said. Huge
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 29, 2017
No wonder we hadn’t heard anything all offseason from Sam Bradford or his agent about a new contract. The Bradford camp may have been waiting to see where Stafford’s deal would end up before taking turkey with the Vikings. And Monday was a good day for Bradford as Stafford became the highest paid QB in NFL history.
Here’s how Stafford and Bradford compare over the last two years:
Stafford stat line (2015-2016):
16-16 W/L, 66.3% completion percentage, 56 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 7.2 YPA, 6.5 ANY/A, 95.1 rating.
Pro Football Focus Grades:
Sam Bradford stat line: (2015-2016)
14-15 W/L, 68.4% completion percentage, 39 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 7.0 YPA, 6.1 ANY/A, 93.0 rating.
Pro Football Focus Grades:
Stafford has a reputation as a gunslinger and winner because he pulled off a ludicrous number of fourth-quarter comebacks last season, but his record over the last two years is essentially the same as Bradford’s and the rest of his stat line and grades aren’t far above the Vikings’ starter either.
So if Bradford’s side called the Vikings’ brass today about an extension, they’d likely start in the same range.
If the Vikings planned to franchise tag Bradford – as Washington has with Kirk Cousins – they could be looking at prices in the mid-to-upper 20 millions.
As insane as that sounds, the Vikings will likely be able to swing either deal.
If Bradford were to receive an extension or tag that came along with a $25 million hit, that would leave them with about $13 million on the cap (before draft picks etc.) for 2018. They will have flexibility though. They can move on from players like Latavius Murray, Kyle Rudolph and Alex Boone with little penalty.
One of the issues teams run into with big QB contracts is that they can’t afford to keep star players. The Vikings have already signed defensive stars like Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen to long-term deals this offseason.
As for a long-term outlook, retaining Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs and Eric Kendricks could be problematic, but the cap is likely to rise and in 2019 the Vikings could re-work Griffen’s deal or move on for only $1.2 million in dead money (vs. a $10.9 million cap hit).
Long story short: A mega deal for Bradford wouldn’t demolish the franchise.
Where the Stafford deal works in the Vikings’ favor is this: It gives the team a number to work with as they further evaluate Bradford this year. With weapons abound and a (presumably) better offensive line, the Vikings should have a clear idea of whether Bradford is a franchise quarterback after this season.
Of course, Teddy Bridgewater is the wild card in this equation. If it’s unclear whether Bridgewater can return to 100%, tagging Bradford in 2018 and letting the two battle in camp for the starting job could be the best scenario.