MIKE O'HARA

Matthew Stafford's only focus is preparing the 2013 season

Posted Jun 11, 2013

Stafford is completely focused on football, leaving contract discussions solely on the shoulders of his agent and the Lions

Matthew Stafford's focus is on preparing for the Lions' upcoming season, and not on the status of negotiations on his contract or where he ranks in any player pools or quarterback ratings.
Matthew StaffordQB Matthew Stafford (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

The subject of Stafford's contract arose over the weekend when Lions President Tom Lewand spoke to reporters at a charity softball game hosted by Lions players Stephen Tulloch and Nate Burleson.

Stafford's reaction Tuesday was typical of what he's said all along. The job of getting a deal done belongs to his agent, Tom Condon, and Lewand. His job is to get ready to play football, and contract talks aren't a distraction.

"I don't think it will be either way, whether it gets done or doesn't," Stafford said. "I don't play this game to get contracts. I play this game to win games. That's the way I've always felt about it. Whether it gets done or doesn't, it's no distraction."

This has been a productive offseason for quarterbacks getting new contracts or extensions. The Packers' Aaron Rodgers got $62.5 million guaranteed. The Cowboys' Tony Romo got $55 million guaranteed, also on an extension.

Joe Flacco of the Super Bowl champion Ravens got $52 million guaranteed on a new six-year deal.

The six-year contract Stafford signed as a rookie has two years to run – through the 2014 season – and Lewand and Condon have been talking about an extension for several months. At the charity softball game Lewand indicated to reporters that talks will break off for this year if a new deal is not reached by the start of the season.

"We'll either get a deal done, or we'll focus of football," Lewand was quoted as saying in The Detroit News.

Lewand has been consistent in saying the goal in negotiations is not to clear salary cap space but to have Stafford as the Lions' quarterback on a long-term basis. And Stafford has been equally consistent in saying he is not concerned with any daily updates on the status of his contract.

"I'm concentrating on football every day," Stafford said after Tuesday's mini-camp practice. "That's something that Tom (Lewand) and my agent will talk about and figure out. Whenever they want to stop talking, they'll stop talking.

"I'm just doing football stuff now. If I get a phone call, I get a phone call."

Stafford threw 41 TD passes in 2011 but fell to 20 last season. He has heard the talk about his performance declining but tries not to be affected by it.

Negative comments aren't what motivate him to have a better year.

"It's impossible not to hear it just because I watch SportsCenter like everybody else," he said. "I'm a person, too. It's not the main fuel. The main fuel is I want to keep progressing in the right direction.

"I want to be a great quarterback. I want to be able to help this team win. The only way I'm going to be able to do that is if I let nothing get in my way, and just concentrate on what I'm supposed to concentrate on and get better at what I need to get better at."