MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: It was a typical Wednesday for Matthew Stafford ... aside from a few strokes of the pen

Posted Jul 10, 2013

Matthew Stafford's contract extension only enhances his growing leadership role within the Detroit Lions' locker room

It was a typical Wednesday for Matthew Stafford. Only a few strokes of the pen on his new contract made it different than any other Wednesday in this offseason for the Lions' starting quarterback.

Stafford had his regular early workout at the team's practice facility in Allen Park. No sweat there. Well, a little sweat.

"That why I'm still sweating," Stafford said later, referring to his workout. "I just ran this morning. Actually, I'm going to play a little bit of golf. I just ran on the treadmill."

After the workout was a meeting upstairs to with Lions President Tom Lewand and other members of the front office before Stafford put his signature on a contract extension.

After that was an informal session with the media that lasted about eight minutes. And then Stafford was off to participate in a golf outing.

All of it happened before 10 a.m.

Just another day in the life of a young quarterback with a golden arm.

The only difference was signing the extension that adds three years to the original deal Stafford signed as a rookie in 2009.  The new deal has a gross value of $76.5 million, with $41.5 million guaranteed.

Stafford is well aware of the attention sparked by the extension. Based on contracts signed this year by other quarterbacks – Joe Flacco, Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers to name three – Stafford got a market-value payoff, but the per-year average of $15.3 million of Stafford's deal is far from setting the market.

Rodgers rightfully has the most guaranteed money at $54 million, with an average of $18.7 million. Flacco's deal has the highest average at $20 million, but only $29 million is guaranteed.

Stafford's contract backs up comments he has made since early in the offseason that being the highest paid player was not his primary interest.

He never gave serious thought to playing out the final two years of his contract in the hopes of gaining more negotiating leverage, as Flacco did successfully last season when he led the Ravens to the Super Bowl championship.

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

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

"I want to be about the team. I want to help the team out if I can, with cap space. Whatever it is. I want good p around me. As a quarterback, it doesn't hurt to have weapons. If I can help out any way I can, I'm happy to do it."

Stafford spoke earlier in the year and again on Wednesday about his growing leadership role. Some of that is a product of playing quarterback, but Stafford's interaction with teammates plays a larger role.

Even though he's only 25, Stafford has ascended steadily in four years as a key veteran. Since the end of last season, such veterans as Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jeff Backus, Stephen Peterman and Jason Hanson have been released or retired.

As veterans depart, more eyes focus on a familiar face, and Stafford has risen to the top of that list.

"It's a natural progression," Stafford said earlier. "Even last year we had Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jeff  Backus and guys who'd been around 10, 12, 13 years – whatever it is. I respected everything about them.

"Some of those guys are gone. In that way, it was a natural progression to move to the next guy. At the same time, the quarterback has to be the leader of the team."

The contract extension that will keep Stafford with the Lions through at least the 2017 season elevates his leadership position.

"I've spent the last four years making this locker room mine," he said. "I think this helps solidify that. I think the guys in there understand that and know that. It's obviously a great gesture by the club to understand that and to back me."