Matthew Stafford stood in front of his locker, surrounded by a slew of reporters inquiring about the back injury that cost him half a season and spoiled any shot the Detroit Lions had of having a successful season.
Stafford insisted fans of the franchise should not be worried about his health heading into his 12th NFL season, even though back ailments have affected him for two straight years.
“I’m not concerned about it, so that should make people feel good,” Stafford said Monday. “I’m the one living with the back. I feel pretty good about it.”
Stafford missed his eighth straight game Sunday when the Lions closed the season with a ninth consecutive loss, dropping them to 3-12-1 for their worst season in a decade.
Detroit drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009. After his career began with a pair of injury-shortened seasons, he didn’t miss a game for eighth straight seasons before back and hip ailments limited him to eight games this year.
The Lions still have a lot invested in Stafford with a $135 million deal that keeps him under contract through 2022 and say they’re very confident he will not have lingering health problems
“No issues there,” general manager Bob Quinn said.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
Kenny Golladay was a bright spot during a dismal season, leading the league with 11 receiving touchdowns in his third season. The receiver has one year left on his deal and said he’s open to signing a long-term contract extension.
“I’ve already expressed I’m open to it,” he said.
STAY OR GO
Offensive guard Graham Glasgow has started 58 games since Detroit drafted him out of Michigan in the third round three years ago. Glasgow may be worth more on the open market as a free agent than the Lions are willing to pay him.
“I would like to feel like I’m wanted,” he acknowledged.
The Lions will likely want to bring back 34-year-old wide receiver Danny Amendola, who had one of his best seasons, instead of letting him go in free agency. They may let defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson hit the market because he has not lived up to expectations as the 46th pick overall in 2016.
SEE YA, SNACKS?
Damon “Snacks” Harrison said after Sunday’s 23-20 loss to Green Bay he’s pondering retirement. The 31-year-old defensive tackle expressed frustrations that injuries affected his play. Harrison signed an $11 million, one-year extension last summer, putting him under contract through the 2021 season.
Quinn made an in-season trade for the second straight season that did not work out well for the franchise. He sent safety Quandre Diggs, a captain, to Seattle for a fifth-round pick. While Diggs flourished for the Seahawks, the Lions failed to replace him.
Does Quinn have any regrets about the decision?
“No,” he insisted.
Last year, the Lions traded receiver Golden Tate to Philadelphia for a third-round pick. The move appeared to hurt the team’s morale and ability to move the ball on offense.
HOW TO GET IT RIGHT
Quinn and Patricia will be in win-now mode more than ever next year, trying to also stick around for 2021, after ownership decided earlier this month to retain them.
“Obviously, we need to win next year,” Quinn said. “I understand that.”
Entering his fifth season in charge of the front office, Quinn insisted he won’t sacrifice the future with short-sighted decisions just to improve his job security.
“You always have to have your lens on the short term and the long term, and that’s not going to change,” he said.
The Lions can’t miss on a difference-making player, likely on defense, with the No. 3 pick overall. Detroit’s defense dipped to 31st in the NFL this season after ranking 10th overall last year.
Defensive end Trey Flowers proved to be a good free-agent signing, but he needs a lot of help on the defensive line.
If the team chooses to trade three-time Pro Bowler Darius Slay with one year and $10 million left on his deal instead of giving him a contract extension, it will need to sign a free agent cornerback or invest a high draft pick to bolster the position.
The Lions will probably want to start the 2020 season with a good option to back up Stafford after finding out they can’t win without him if they’re left with veteran castoffs or a rookie.
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