Now, the Detroit Lions have ushered their franchise player into that rich fraternity.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford agreed to a three-year contract extension keeping him in Detroit until 2017. The value of the deal totals $53 million with $41.5 million guaranteed, including a $27.5 million signing bonus.
The immediate question after a big named player inks his new deal is whether or not they deserved it. And the immediate answer based on Stafford's carrer is no.
The Lions have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 25-year-old's career in Detroit.
The good arrived in 2011 when Stafford threw for 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and leading his team to their first playoff appearance since 1999.
The bad came last year as Stafford's major numbers dipped down to 20 touchdowns and the Lions finishing 4-12. Stafford's yards-per-completion number fell from 7.6 in 2011 to 6.83 last season.
The ugly appeared twice during the first two years of Stafford's career, in which he spent the majority of both seasons on the sidleine. Numerous shoulder injuries haulted the progression of the franchise as well as the development of their quarterback.
As all of these phases have come and gone for Stafford, both sides still wanted to get a deal done. Now that it's arrived, everybody should be applauding the numbers and be grateful an agreement got finished.
And it's not just "an" agreement, it's "another" agreement.
General manager Martin Mayhew may not have a spectacular draft record, but he's certainly worked magic these past few offseasons. The Lions have been facing a tremendous dillema with their salary cap, but still managed to agree on deals with their own players like Calvin Johnson, linebacker Stephen Tulloch and now Stafford.
The timing played perfectly for Stafford considering we've seen every phase of his career thus far. By inking him to a deal in 2013, you take out the possibility of Stafford playing much better next season and his contract going up. If it goes the other way, you sit and think about why he's getting re-signed at all. Finishing it this summer took both of those options out of play.
Even with the inconsistencies of his mechanics and his accuracy, Stafford is still probably one of the quarterbacks the Lions have ever had. Plus he has as much upside as any other young quarterback in the league. At only 25-years-old, Stafford's game can and needs to improve.
The Lions have gone 22-42 since the beginning of Stafford's reign in 2009. While his numbers haven't been as great as they should be, he's half of a tremendous duo with Megatron, becoming a leader in Detroit, and still one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL.
If the Lions refused to re-sign Stafford, where else were they going to spend all that money? And if Detroit wasn't going to give him that money, more than half of the teams in the NFL would.
While everyone is wondering if Stafford "deserved" the contract, it's not about him being rewarded. The focus of the deal was keeping Stafford in Detroit. They couldn't afford to let him leave, and they would be foolish to search somewhere else to find another new quarterback.
So applaud the move and thank the Lions for getting this move done. This deal needed to get done at the right price and the right time. With the contract numbers looking good, let's now hope it comes with the 2011 numbers and success of Stafford.