By: Will Burchfield
When Matthew Stafford takes the field for the Lions’ season-opener versus the Cardinals, he’ll likely do so with a new contract under his belt.
Stafford’s representatives have been working with the Lions on an extension throughout the offseason. General manager Bob Quinn said over the weekend he’s “confident” a deal will get done.
Speaking on SiriusXM NASCAR radio during the Firekeepers Casino 400 from Michigan International Speedway, Quinn said, “We’re working towards that and hopefully we have some news later in the summer.”
Both Quinn and Stafford have declined to establish any kind of deadline – publicly, at least – by which a deal must be finalized. But many believe that Stafford will wait for Kirk Cousins and the Derek Carr to set the market before signing an extension of his own.
Cousins and the Redskins have until the July 17 franchise-tag signing deadline to work out a new deal. Carr has set the start of training camp as his deadline for landing a new contract with the Raiders.
Of course, Stafford said last week during minicamp that he intends to seek an extension on his own terms.
“I’m not too worried about what those guys do. I’m just worried about trying to get better out here. That’s pretty much all I can say. This time of year to me is football time. I’m out here playing football, trying to get better to help this team win,” he said.
It is widely believed that Stafford is in line to become the highest-paid player in the NFL. Andrew Luck holds that title at the moment with an average annual salary of $24.5 million, but Stafford is expected to exceed that amount upon signing an extension.
The Lions quarterback is entering the final year of a $53-million extension he signed in 2013. He’s set to make $16.5 million in 2017.
Earlier this offseason, Stafford suggested he won’t give the Lions a hometown discount when he inks a new deal.
“Every year, teams find ways to put good teams around good quarterbacks. You see it every year. I’m not too worried about that,” he said. “I know that the salary cap and all that kind of stuff is malleable as you want it to be. I think you just go and try and make a good decision for not only the player, but the team.”
Stafford, 29, is coming off a season in which he garnered MVP consideration until a finger injury hindered him over the final month. He threw for over 4,300 yards, completed over 65 percent of his passes and finished with 24 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions.