It is a foregone conclusion that the Detroit Lions are going to reach a lucrative contract extension with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Tuesday the Detroit Free Press reported that Stafford only wants “fair-market value.” He said, “I want to win games, I want to have as many good players around me as I possibly can.”
Apparently the University of Georgia has a good very good public relations program. Stafford is going to get paid a ton of money. Tony Romo got $100 million for his one playoff win. Stafford has just one fewer postseason victory. His career record is 17-30. There is no better message to put out than “I want to be here, I am willing to sacrifice, and with a few new players we can excel.” Stafford knows that he has the option of signing a front loaded contract, or a reasonable deal with a bunch of guaranteed money, or a shorter contract that allows him to sign an even bigger deal down the line. Furthermore, any mega-deal he signs will look good to fans when compared to Romo and Joe Flacco's contracts.
The Lions are really in a pretty good position. In the NFL you either have a quarterback to build around or you don't. While Stafford has not been among the elite signal callers in the league, he is 25 years old, has shown flashes of brilliance, and possesses all of the tools you could reasonably ask for.
Calvin Johnson is one of the top targets in the league, and Reggie Bush adds credibility to the running game. There is no question that the Lions are going to need to outscore teams, but the return of a healthy Louis Delmas, resigning Chris Houston, plus the addition of Glover Quinn should mean an improved secondary.
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Detroit should get at least one and perhaps multiple impact performers in the draft. The Lions are scheduled to draft fifth overall and have three of the first 65 selections. There are multiple offensive linemen that draft experts like a lot and Detroit may be in position to scoop one up early. If they can find a defensive linemen to go along with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley later in the draft, they'll have addressed some major needs this off-season.
In other words, Stafford knows that the team is growing, he is well aware that he is going to get paid handsomely, and it won't be difficult to manipulate his contract in such a way that the Lions gain a little flexibility. In the end Detroit will go as far as Stafford can take them. Whether he gets paid like Romo or merely in the same sort of way Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady are compensated, being Matt Stafford is pretty good.