By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – With the luxury of superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson as one target and solid veteran running back Reggie Bush as another, many quarterbacks would take advantage of the last couple years of their contract to build their value and eventually sign a monster deal.
For Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who Wednesday morning signed a three-year contract extension worth $53 million, that was not the main concern.
“I don’t want to go for the next three years talking about, well you’ve got two years left, now you’ve got one year left, now you’re getting franchised,” Stafford said. “That’s just something that I’m not about. I want to be about the team.
“I want to help the team out if I can, cap space, whatever it is,” he added. “I want good players around me as a quarterback, doesn’t hurt to have weapons. If I can help out any way I can, I’m happy to do it.”
Compared to recent blockbuster deals signed by quarterbacks, Stafford’s deal looks like a real bargain. Drew Brees signed a five-year, $100 million extension with the New Orleans Saints. Aaron Rodgers signed a five-year, $110 million extension with the Green Bay Packers. Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens cashed in the team’s Super Bowl victory with a whopping six-year, $120.6 million extension.
Of course, it is clear what all three of those quarterbacks have in common that Stafford lacks.
The Lions went 2-14 in 2009, Stafford’s first season with the team. Two years ago Detroit won 10 games, but last season the Lions slipped to 4-12. It is hardly the setting for a huge quarterback deal, but Stafford plans to turn it around.
“I promise you, nobody’s going to work harder than me to get this team going in the right direction, winning games and going to playoffs multiple years in a row,” Stafford said. “That’s the plan, that’s the reason I signed this deal is to be here and turn this thing in the right direction and make sure it stays that way for a long time.”
The three-year term, which means Stafford will be with the team through 2017, gives Stafford the opportunity to sign another extension with the Lions – or leave them for another team – later down the road. Waiting longer to begin negotiations rather than signing a deal two years before the current deal expires might have gotten Stafford a more lucrative deal, but team president Tom Lewand said the money was not Stafford’s biggest priority.
“For him, it really was more about the process, more about being here, more about solidifying himself as the leader of this team and of that locker room than it was about every last zero or every last dollar and cent on the contract,” Lewand said. “Without his active involvement and his leadership, I don’t think we’re standing about here talking about it today.”
As for whether he has big plans for a new house or car after signing his new deal, Stafford said he had not even thought about it.
“I don’t come in here and work harder or play harder or practice harder because I’m making this much or that much,” Stafford said. “It doesn’t matter to me. I understand I’m extremely blessed and very lucky to make what I make, but at the same time, it’s not on my mind every day. I’m out here doing this because I want to win and I’ve always been this way.”