Matthew Stafford significantly involved in contract negotiation process

Posted Jul 10, 2013

When all was said and done, Matthew Stafford and the Lions easily came to agreement on a three-year contract extension

Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford put his signature on a three-year, $53 million contract extension on Tuesday, appropriately after a morning workout in Allen Park that entailed running on a treadmill.

Usually, deals like this take a lot of negotiations and a lot of back-and-forth, but this might have been the least-complicated contract Lions president Tom Lewand has ever done.

"Matthew really drove this process," Lewand said. "He worked hard on the contract front and, 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. Without his active involvement and his leadership, I don't think we're standing here talking about it today."

Stafford was involved in the process from the beginning and his goals, along with those of the club, seemed to be more in line from the beginning than typical contracts involving this much money.

"I want to be about the team," Stafford said Wednesday after signing the deal. "I want to help the team out if I can in cap space, whatever it is. I want good players around me as a quarterback. It doesn't hurt to have weapons and if I can help out anyway I can, I'm happy to do it."

Stafford had most of the leverage in this negotiation with cap numbers the next two seasons north of $20 million. He could have taken a chance on a big 2013 season and then sat down at the negotiation table next offseason heading into the final year of his $78 million rookie deal.

"You know, there were people out there that wanted me to do that and I thought about it," Stafford said. "But I wanted to do what was right for the club and what was right for me.

"Like I said months ago when you guys didn't believe me and I said I'm not in it to sign mega contracts, I'm in it to win games and I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to do what I can to help this club and get as many players around me as we can."

Make no mistake, Stafford is still getting rich in this process. His total compensation for the next five years is $76.5 million and he'll be only 29 when he's ready to sign another deal, which he said Wednesday he hopes is with the Lions after the 2017 season.

"One of the first things we talked about is length of it," he said. "You know, I think it obviously solidifies me here for another five (years) and it also gives me the opportunity to be 28 or 29 maybe and have a chance to do another one here and stay here for a long time.

"So, you know, it's just the way it worked out this year and the number of years is insignificant to me."

If was never a question of if this deal was going to get done, it was always going to be a matter of when, and how painful it was going to be for both sides.

Stafford did his best to make the process painless and it's a win-win for both sides.

Everything Stafford has done this offseason, from staying in town to work out in Allen Park to taking on a more leadership role this offseason, has proven that this is now his offense and his team.

That's only further cemented by the deal he put a pen to Wednesday morning and how the process played itself out over the last months and weeks.

"I think Matthew's involvement made it a very productive conversation because it was a little different than a typical negotiation in that his interests and the team's interests were far more in alignment than sometimes is the case in a typical negotiation," Lewand said.

"A lot of times the player's interest is in maximizing the dollar amount; is in protecting his own, personal interest, which is perfectly understandable and legitimate.

"In this case, it was really about how the franchise can move forward with Matthew as our quarterback and with the best players around him and doing it in a way that was much more in alignment than is typical."