Matthew Stafford becomes fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

Another day, another record for Matthew Stafford.

The Detroit Lions quarterback reached a historic milestone Sunday by becoming the fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards. Stafford was already the quickest player to reach each milestone since 15,000, but this further cements his place in the record books.

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Stafford only needed 147 games to reach the milestone, four fewer than it took Matt Ryan to arrive at the mark when he set the previous record in 2017. Just after them are Drew Brees (152), Dan Marino (153) and Aaron Rodgers (154).

Stafford nearly reached the mark in last week's game but finished with 39,913 yards after only passing for 265 yards, which was slightly lower than his career average of 273.4 yards per game. However, he was able to pick up the record before the end of the first quarter when he connected with Danny Amendola for a 36-yard gain.

How high will Stafford finish on the all-time list?

Stafford entered Sunday with the 21st-most passing yards in NFL history but is on pace to leapfrog Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Kerry Collins and Dan Fouts by season's end. And given his youth at just 31, he's a near certainty to retire in the top 10.

It’s hard to tell if Stafford will have a good chance at the all-time record, though, because it’s constantly changing. Drew Brees is the leader for now, but Tom Brady is fewer than 3,000 yards behind, and both figure to play for several more seasons.

Riley McAtee at The Ringer took a look at which players might be the next Passing Yards King and identified Stafford and Ryan as two strong contenders, provided they don't get hurt. Assuming that Brees and Brady retire around 75,000 yards, Stafford could take over that mantle before he even turns 40, per McAtee’s calculations.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is the fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is the fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Will Stafford make the Hall of Fame?

Stafford has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks since going No. 1 in the 2009 draft, but his name is rarely mentioned with the likes of Brady, Brees and Rodgers, let alone Ryan. He has yet to win a playoff game and entered Sunday with a career 68-77-1 record.

Stafford has benefited from playing with an all-time great receiver in Calvin Johnson and at the weather-protected Ford Field. Furthermore, the Lions are so often trailing that he is able to rack up a lot of passing yards in garbage time when other quarterbacks would spend running the ball to eat clock.

All of this is not to say that Stafford is bad. Only 21 signal-callers have ever reached 40,000 yards, and the only players who are retired and not in the Hall of Fame are Peyton Manning (who is just waiting for eligibility), Carson Palmer, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe and Collins. Palmer may seem like a similar comp as a fellow No. 1 pick, but Stafford is going to blow by his career passing stats, which will likely make his statistical resume too strong to pass up on.

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