Counting down the top-10 athletes playing on Detroit’s four major professional sports teams right now! Check out our other video for Nos. 20-11!
Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press
Matthew Stafford made the rounds with the national media after Tuesday’s practice, meeting with reporters from Toronto and Chicago, and for a few minutes with the NFL Network.
Stafford is the star attraction at an otherwise bland (just the way the Lions like it) training camp, and the topic that comes up with almost every inquiring mind is his contract.
Stafford has made a habit of saying nothing of note about an extension that many across the NFL believe will get done this summer, even if the sides are not particularly close to a deal now, and he repeated his I’m-not-worried-about-it mantra in his live TV interview Tuesday.
“It honestly doesn’t affect me at all,” Stafford said on NFL Network. “I run out here between the white lines and focus on nothing but football. I’m in the meeting rooms doing the same thing, just trying to help this team get as good as we can possibly be.”
Day 3 observations: Pads come on, keep an eye on Leo Koloamatangi
Why Matthew Stafford is the best pro athlete in Detroit right now
Nine years into his NFL career, there’s little doubt the biggest thing that motivates Stafford is success on the field.
He hasn’t experienced much to this point with only three playoff appearances and no postseason victories and, fair or not, the Lions’ successes and failures fall on his performance as a quarterback.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford leaves the field after Day 1 of training camp in Allen Park, July 30, 2017. (Photo: Paul Sancya, AP)
But even multimillionaires many times over like Stafford are human, and anyone who has spent an ounce of time around professional sports has seen enough to know that unresolved contract situations can have a significant impact on players, their families and teams.
Stafford might be immune to the pressures of performing in the final year of his deal.
He is, after all, virtually guaranteed to be a Lion in 2018, either under a franchise tag that would pay him $26.4 million or a new long-term contract that would pay him significantly more.
But with a very important season fast approaching, it remains firmly in the Lions’ best interests to get a deal done now.
Stafford won’t come cheap, not after taking less money to sign a long-term extension with two years left on his rookie contract in 2013. Anyone expecting him to follow the Tom Brady-Patriots model and leave a significant amount on the table can stop their delusion.
From Stafford’s standpoint, there’s precedent to ask for about $29 million per season, the value of his franchise tag over the next two years, and more than $60 million in true guarantees, a number that would top Ndamukong Suh’s free-agent deal with the Miami Dolphins for the most immediate guarantees in NFL history.
The Lions have little reason to go that high — Derek Carr is the highest-paid player in the NFL in terms of new money at just more than $25 million per season on the contract he signed with the Raiders this summer. But the Lions can’t forget the lessons they learned from Suh.
Whether Suh truly wanted to be in Detroit or not, no one knows. But at the end of the day, the Lions let the best player on a very good defense walk, and their team hasn’t been the same since.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell talks with quarterback Mathew Stafford during practice Sunday, July 30, 2017 in Allen Park. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Neither the Lions nor Stafford’s agent has taken negotiations public, and it’s impossible to know exactly where the numbers stand in their negotiations. Would $26 million per season get a deal done? Would $27 million?
The Lions don’t need to take a blank-check approach to Stafford. This isn’t Brady or Aaron Rodgers we’re talking about. But they also need to be wise enough to realize — and I think they are — that the market dictates Stafford will and should set multiple financial records as the next quarterback up and given the leverage he has.
Not doing a deal now would put the Lions and Stafford at risk for becoming Kirk Cousins-Washington Part II. Cousins, the former Michigan State star, is in his second year on the franchise tag and most expect he’ll walk next as a free agent in the spring, having played his hand well and been shown no love by his current team.
Stafford could do the same and become a hero to players everywhere who are clamoring for NBA-type contracts with total guarantees and bigger salaries.
Or he and the Lions can get a deal done, and give both parties the best chance to be a hero in Detroit.
Besides cash, what do Lions have to offer Matthew Stafford?
Stafford-to-Golladay connection heats up at Lions camp
Golden Tate stays consistent as he starts fourth season with Lions
Contact Dave Birkett: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our Lions Xtra app for free on Apple and Android!