By: Will Burchfield
Golden Tate has always stood behind Matthew Stafford.
Time and again, he’s stuck up for his teammate’s ability, his leadership qualities and his right to become one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.
Tate certainly isn’t backing down now.
With contract negotiations between Stafford and the Lions seemingly at a standstill, Tate told the NFL Network the team needs to stop fooling around.
“They gotta get that done — ASAP,” said Tate.
Stafford, 29, is entering the final year of his contract and will make $16.5 million in 2017. It’s widely believed the Lions will sign him to an extension before the upcoming season, but talks between the two sides seem to have stalled.
Tate doesn’t want to confront a reality where Detroit could lose its franchise quarterback.
“You have to lock him up. Don’t even leave a chance that he’s going to hit the free-agent market,” said Tate.
Lions GM Bob Quinn has played his cards very close to his vest regarding Stafford’s contract. But he said last month that he’s “confident” a deal will get done at some point this summer, and team president Rod Wood said he’s comfortable paying Stafford “whatever it takes” to ensure he stays with the Lions.
“He deserves it,” said Tate. “He does everything right. You don’t have to worry about him getting in trouble, he balls out, he’s tough as nails. He’s what you want in a quarterback. If you don’t have a quarterback in this league, you don’t have a chance, in my opinion.”
It’s believed that Stafford’s next deal will make him the highest-paid player in the NFL, a title recently assumed by Derek Carr. The Raiders quarterback signed a five-year, $125 million extension last month.
Stafford certainly has the resume to demand more.
“He’s an excellent athlete, a great leader in the locker room, and with some help the guy is one of the best in the league,” Tate said. “I’m a strong believer in Matt. I hope I have a chance to play with him for the rest of my career, hopefully here in Detroit.”
Tate is angling for an extension himself. He’s entering the fourth year of his five-year, $31 million contract, but feels he’s considerably underpaid.