NFC North Notes: Stafford, Lions, Slay, Vikings

Matthew Stafford was pleased that quarterback Andrew Luck landed a mega-extension with the Colts, and he hopes that contract will help every other signal-caller during their respective negotiations. “I thought it was a good deal,” Stafford told Michael Rothstein of “I’m never against anybody making as much money as they can. That’s great. This is a limited-time business. We don’t get to play this game until we’re 50, and he’s a heck of a player, deserving of every cent.” Luck is now the league’s highest-paid player, but Stafford himself could soon hold that moniker, as his current contract expires following the 2017 season.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • After signing Darius Slay to a lucrative extension earlier this week, the Lions have turned their attention to punter Sam Martin, as Rothstein writes in a separate piece. Martin, who is entering a contract year and who has established himself as one of the better punters in the league, had the best net punting numbers of his career last season at 41.95 yards per punt, while opponents averaged only 6.12 yards per return. Detroit is in negotiations with Martin’s representatives, and the fourth-year pro could soon be clearing more than $3MM per year.
  • The aforementioned Slay extension is a representative of the Lions‘ strategy going forward under new general manager Bob Quinn, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press“That’s the plan,” said team president Rod Wood. “Build our own through the draft and find good guys, then extend them and keep them here. It’s a lot easier when you know the guy then signing them from free agency when you’re hoping that you know them, so we’re really happy that it worked out this way.” Detroit will have a chance to execute that approach next offseason, when offensive linemen Riley Reiff and Larry Warford are scheduled to become free agents.
  • Offensive lineman Mike Harris is on the non-football injury list while he deals with an illness, and there’s not a specific timeline for his return to Vikings‘ camp, writes Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. As such, Harris’ training camp battle with right guard Brandon Fusco has essentially become a non-competition, and Minnesota’ starting offensive line is now all but certainly going to feature Matt Kalil, Alex Boone, John Sullivan, Fusco, and Andre Smith. I wrote about the Vikings’ depth up front earlier this year, but several of those options are now out of the picture.
  • Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway hinted that 2016 will be his last year in the league, per Shari L. Jones of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (video link). That does not come as much of a surprise, as Greenway hinted even before signing his current one-year deal with Minnesota that he would be hanging up his cleats at season’s end.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

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