- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Colleague Kevin Seifert took a look Thursday at whether every starting quarterback in the NFL was “worth it” from the vantage point of their cap number for this season and average per year (APY) compensation.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, for me, turned into an interesting case. As I wrote in the piece, I would not take Stafford based on his cap number. He has the second-highest number in the league, more than that of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
So in a one-year situation, it’s impossible to say Stafford's worth it because of Manning’s insane season especially. Speaking of which, if you think of Manning or Brees with Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush together in the same offense, that would be more than a little bit insane.
But there is much more nuance to this.
If this were a multiyear situation, I would probably take Stafford because he still has potentially a decade's worth of decent-to-good football ahead of him and is still making improvements in his fifth season in the league.
His accuracy has gotten better and when he has better options around him, he turns into a better quarterback.
It’s why based on his APY number, I would take Stafford. The money there places him more in the middle of the quarterback pack and that makes him much more valuable as a passer. His numbers and future potential are good enough there that he is worth the long-term investment.
Plus, as I mentioned in the story, he is a good locker room guy, is unlikely to have off-the-field issues and is a good spokesman for a franchise. Those are all net positives for teams when they are looking at a potential quarterback.
Stafford’s case is also interesting because a lot of the quarterbacks he is being compared to are still in their rookie contracts while Stafford just signed a contract extension that elevated his salary numbers. Good for him, but it makes it tougher to whether he's worth it compared to the rest of the league.
It also doesn’t help when judging Stafford’s cost that he is one of the last top picks to come in before rookie salary slotting changed the numbers. He also restructured his contract earlier in his deal, which gave him a massive cap number this season.
So on the field, Stafford is worth it and in most cases he is off the field as well. As he continues through his new contract extension, as long as he continues to improve, he will likely end up worth it in every way one can look at his contract.