The Detroit Lions will table contract extension talks for quarterback Matthew Stafford if a deal isn't reached before the beginning of the regular season, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Stafford has two years remaining on his contract, but the two sides have been negotiating since April.
Lions team president Tom Lewand said that the team will "either get a deal done or we'll focus on football." This means he doesn't want Stafford to be thinking about his contract during the regular season, as all of his attention should be on winning.
The Lions are motivated to get a deal done for a few reasons. For one, Stafford is their franchise quarterback and risking him on the free agent market is a bad idea. They also wouldn't want to use an incredibly expensive franchise tag to keep him in Detroit when his contract is up.
It's unclear if the Lions are just looking for an extension or if they're trying to sign him to an entirely new contract, given that Stafford has cap figures of $20.8 million and $19.3 million over the next two seasons. Stafford entered the NFL prior to the rookie wage scale and so signed a huge deal as the first overall pick.
Stafford is likely looking to recent deals given out to quarterbacks. Joe Flacco signed a $120 million contract with $51 million guaranteed with the Baltimore Ravens, and Tony Romo got $119 million and $55 million guaranteed from the Dallas Cowboys.
Of course, the Lions only went 4-12 last season, including eight straight losses to close out their season. Stafford may be hoping for a better year this year before coming back to the bargaining table with high demands. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.