Lions could hold off Matthew Stafford contract talks until next offseason
"We've still got some discussion to have, but at some point in time we'll either get a deal done or we'll focus on football," Lewand said on Saturday. "It's a different dynamic when you have two years left on a contract versus one.”
"Most of them get done with a year left. And we've worked through a lot of those issues and continue to do that, want to continue the dialogue,” said Lewand. “But at some point in time we'll either have a deal or we'll agree that the focus needs to be on what's going on on the field."
The Lions opened contract talks with Stafford in February and were reportedly close to a deal by April. But its June now and there are no indications of a new contract in the horizon.
Stafford has two years left on a six-year contract he signed with the Lions in his rookie season, freshly off as the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. However, Stafford’s current contract carries a cap hit of 20.8 million in 2013 and $19.3 million the following year. The Lions will enter the summer with an estimated $1.9 million in cap space after restructuring the final two years of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s rookie deal. However, Suh still carries a cap hit of $19.3 million in 2014, and the Lions still have to begin talks on a new contract with him.
Considering the current circumstances, the Lions don’t have much financial flexibility, and could risk exposing their franchise quarterback to free agency or using a $23.2-million franchise tag to keep him off the open market, after setting an expiry date on Stafford contract talks for this season. Stafford is reportedly asking for a contract in the price range of what Super Bowl XLVII winning quarterback Joe Flacco, New England Patriots’ Tony Romo and Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers negotiated for this offseason.
"Again, I think it's atypical for us to enter into discussions with Matthew with two years left on his deal, and I'm very glad we have," Lewand said while declining to say exactly where the contract talks were headed or putting an strict date when negotiations will cease. "I think it's been a very productive process that may result in an agreement, and I certainly think will result in an agreement at the right point in time, and that may be soon and it may be a little bit later.”
“But the process itself has been very valuable,” added Lewand.