Lions president OK paying Stafford 'whatever it takes'

The honor of owning the title of 'NFL's highest-paid player' could change hands swiftly in the coming months.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is due an extension, which should surpass the $24.95 million per year that Andrew Luck currently makes as the top-paid football player. Aaron Rodgers deserves a raise soon. Kirk Cousins has enough leverage to push for the top spot. And Detroit Lions signal-caller Matthew Stafford is on a path to break the bank.

While Stafford has insisted there is no timetable to get a deal done, the Lions' front office has spoken optimistically in recent days about an extension with the team's most valuable player.

Detroit general manager Bob Quinn told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio this weekend he was "confident" a deal would get done, hopefully later in the summer.

Lions team president Rod Wood told ESPN's Michael Rothstein he's comfortable making Stafford the highest-paid player in the NFL, if that's what it takes to keep the quarterback.

"I'm comfortable in getting a deal done with him, and we'll see where that ends up," Wood said. "It's going to be whatever it takes, I think, to make it happen from both sides, and whether he becomes the highest-paid or not, it'll be a short-lived designation because, as Bob [Quinn] said, and I think it's true, if you're in the top whatever of quarterbacks, when your time comes up, your time comes up and then somebody else's time comes up, and they become the highest-[paid player].

"It's a premium position, and you need to have a very, very good player at that position to be credible and be competitive, and I think we do have that, and we're working on getting a deal done."

For all the Stafford critics, and there are plenty, citing his lack of playoff success while scoffing at the notion that he -- or Carr or Cousins -- could become the highest-paid NFL player without a postseason win, the message is simple: The going rate for quality quarterback play will only increase.

If there were no salary cap, a player like Stafford would be worth at least double the $25 million that it would take to make him the highest-paid NFL player this summer. NFL quarterbacks are so vital to winning (and thus making money) every contract ends up a relative bargain when compared to other businesses.

Couple the importance of the position, the fact that the Lions haven't had a quarterback as good as Stafford since October 6, 1958, and you can understand Wood's comfort in paying his quarterback.

Stafford isn't just the Lions best player, he's literally the only irreplaceable person on Detroit's roster. If Martha Firestone Ford is going to spend her money, it makes sense to give it to the face of the franchise, who is the only player keeping her football team from bottoming out.

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