While the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford are involved in “active” discussions, a “substantial gap” exists between Stafford’s asking price and Detroit’s offer, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).
Although “internal optimism” exists with the Lions front office that a deal will ultimately get done, Stafford last week there is “no timetable” guiding negotiations between the two sides. That lack of a schedule could theoretically be due to the difference between Stafford’s demands and Detroit’s comfort zone, although the Lions are apparently willing to meet nearly any asking price on the part of Stafford. Team president Rod Wood said earlier this year that he’s “comfortable” making Stafford the highest-paid player in the league, which would entail agreeing to an annual salary in excess of $25MM.
Stafford, 29, is fresh off the best season of his eight-year career, as he posted a 70.5 total quarterback rating (eighth in the league) while finishing 11th in adjusted net yards per attempt. While his touchdown percentage dropped to four percent, his interception percentage also decreased from 2.2% in 2015 to 1.7% in 2016. All told, Stafford put up 4,327 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 65.3% of his passes (although his effective completion percentage was sixth-worst among starting quarterbacks, per Cian Fahey of Pre-Snap Reads).
If the Lions fail to reach an extension with Stafford, they’ll have the option of using the franchise tag in 2018. That tender will come with a $22MM+ price tag attached, but given that Detroit currently projects to have a league-most ~$76MM in cap space next season, the cost shouldn’t present a problem.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.