Matthew Stafford: Three cap-friendly years

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
10:50
AM ET
Details of Matthew Stafford's contract agreement with the Detroit Lions, which emerged Thursday morning, provide new clarity on the Lions' five-year roadmap while also suggesting the timing of their next flashpoint.

In the short term, the Lions gained $3 million in cap space for 2013 and $3.5 million in 2014 via Stafford's extension, based on numbers in the ESPN Stats & Information database. They now have just under $5 million in cap space available, which they can use this year or declare it a surplus and push it into next year. The latter strategy might be preferable considering that, in 2014, the Lions have more than $50 million in cap space committed to Stafford, receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh alone.

Stafford's cap value, detailed in the chart, is relatively reasonable through the 2015 season, topping out at $17.72 million. But it then jumps to $22.5 million in 2016 at the same time Johnson's cap value jumps to $24.09 million.

Both numbers are large for reasons that were largely unavoidable, as we discussed Wednesday. If left untouched, Stafford and Johnson project to account for more than a third of the Lions' total cap space by 2016 and beyond -- suggesting that one or both contracts will need to be addressed again at that point if not before.

So it's reasonable to expect Stafford to play out the next three years of this deal, during which his $41.5 million in guarantees will be paid out. But if all goes well, the Lions might be well served to extend him again after the 2015 season.

Related: Here is the podcast of Stafford's appearance Thursday morning on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning."

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