Matthew Stafford

NFC Notes: Lions, Shepard, Redskins, Wilson

Recently appearing before a congressional subcommittee regarding brain injuries in football, former Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said his former organization didn’t want him speaking about CTE.

“The moment I said anything about it, I had two calls telling me I shouldn’t talk about it,” Levy said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “I don’t know if it was because it was CTE, or if it was because it’s just the general NFL rule of, like, only football. Only talk about football, only think about football. I posted simply the research … and I was told not to talk about it the first day it was out. And I’m just, like, you know, it could have just been locker room culture. Nobody wants to talk about anything other than football. But it didn’t sit well with me when I’m talking about brain injuries.

“It’s my brain. It’s not my shoulder, it’s my brain. It controls everything I do, it controls everything we think, everything we feel. And if I don’t have the right to speak about that as a player, I think it really speaks about the culture of the NFL, of what those conversations are. I think that’s indicative of the conversations that we don’t hear. The closed-door conversations between owners. They still are trying to find ways to silence us.”

The Lions responded to their former player’s statement, saying “[w]e are aware of his comments and we strongly disagree with this claim that anyone from our organization tried to silence him.”

Levy, 30, spent his entire eight-year career in Detroit. After being named as a second-team All-Pro in 2014, the linebacker signed a lucrative extension with the organization. However, a hip, knee, and meniscus injury ultimately forced him to hang up his cleats, and he’s since spent his team advocating for CTE awareness.

“I don’t think the owners are in touch with it,” Levy said. “It’s a business. We’re a number. Our brains and bodies are disposable.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Matthew Stafford is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s matchup against the Saints with an ankle injury, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the Lions quarterback is expected to play. The 29-year-old is one pace for one of his most efficient NFL season, as he’s completed 64.2-percent of his pass attempts for 1116 yards, nine touchdowns, and only one interception.
  • The Giants placed three wideouts (Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris) on the injured reserve this past week, and it looks like they’ll be without another top receiver for at least this weekend. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets that wideout Sterling Shepard is out for tomorrow’s contest in Denver. The former second-rounder has hauled in 22 receptions for 263 yards and one touchdown this season.
  • Back in 2012, the Redskins had selected quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round despite using the second-overall pick on fellow quarterback Robert Griffin III. However, as former offensive coordinator (and current 49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan explains, the team was actually eyeing another notable signal-caller with that fourth-round selection. “Actually, our goal was we were going to take Russell Wilson in the fourth round knowing what type of offense we were going to run, and we wanted to pair some guys with that, but he went before that,” Shanahan said (via Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee). “And we had Kirk ranked high. He was there in the fourth. He fell that far, so we thought it made a lot of sense for the organization.”

NFC Notes: Lions, Stafford, Eagles, Seahawks, Bears

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered a hamstring injury and a sprained ankle in Detroit’s 27-24 loss to Carolina, a source tells ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. Stafford’s status is currently up in the air and his week of practice will determine whether he plays Sunday against New Orleans. The good news is that if Stafford does miss time, it sounds like it won’t be a lengthy absence.

Here’s a look at the NFC:

  • Eagles coach Doug Pederson admitted to reporters that it’s going to be tough to get lineman Lane Johnson through the league’s concussion protocol in time for Thursday night’s game (Twitter link via Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com).
  • Seahawks running back Chris Carson lost a good chunk of money thanks to his injury and the split in his contract, as Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) points out. His weekly salary is now based off $348K while on IR rather than $465K.
  • Bears linebacker John Timu, who was carted off the field on Sunday with a scary-looking injury, only suffered a high-ankle sprain (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). He’ll be out 2-4 weeks, which is a much better prognosis than many expected at first.

Extra Points: Beckham, Stafford, Garrett

Last week, the NFL trade marketplace exploded. Thirty deals occurred since August 1, more than twice the average of the previous five years. Several anonymous execs attempted to explain (via Mike Sando of ESPN.com) theories behind the uptick. Tanking made its way into the conversation, with an executive citing the Jets, Bills and Browns’ recent moves as examples.

Every owner wants to win,” the exec said, via Sando, “but the real question is: Would you rather go 8-8 or 5-11 plus $30 million? If you are the Jets and you traded Sheldon (Richardson) and got rid of (Eric) Decker, isn’t the owner saying he’d rather go 2-14 and save $40 million than go 6-10? If you are the Bills with Watkins or the Browns with Joe Haden, is it the same thing?

A separate exec said teams are more willing to part with draft picks due to the current CBA’s practice-time limitations making it more difficult to develop players. The elimination of the 75-man cut date, age of certain GMs and GMs authorizing better, easier to trade contracts came up in Sando’s piece.

As the second half of opening night gets underway, here’s the latest from around the league as 28 other teams prepare for their openers.

  • Odell Beckham Jr. faces an uphill battle to play Sunday night, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link) the Giants superstar wideout suiting up against the Cowboys will leave him at far less than 100 percent. Rapoport added “a lot of things have to align perfectly” for the fourth-year player to play in Week 1. Beckham suffered a high ankle sprain in Cleveland just more than two weeks ago. Beckham caught a career-high 100 passes last season and played in all 16 New York games for the first time.
  • Matthew Stafford‘s NFL-record contract does not contain offset language, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. While Stafford’s five-year Lions extension profiles as a three- or four-year pact due to the structure of the guarantees, the quarterback who is not exactly regarded as a top-tier passer stands to play on this deal into his mid-30s. The Lions would not see another team — in the event Stafford is cut — offset any of the guaranteed money owed to Stafford in the event the sides part ways over the course of this deal. Stafford’s deal will come with cap hits of $16.5MM this season, $26.5MM (2018), $29.5MM (’19), $31.5MM (’20), $30MM (’21) and $23MM (’22).
  • Over the past year, Browns No. 1 pick Myles Garrett has dealt with two ankle injuries and a foot problem. Hue Jackson, though, will not label his top defensive end as injury-prone just yet. “No concern (of Garrett’s injury issues) because I know exactly how it happened,” said Jackson, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “If you get somebody thrown into your leg, it could happen to any one of our guys. If you guys would have seen it, it could happen to anybody on our football team. It is just unfortunate it happened to a guy who we wish was out there all of the time. That goes with it.” Cabot added Garrett is expected to be out multiple weeks as a result of the high ankle sprain — Garrett’s second in a year — sustained at practice Wednesday.

Details On Matthew Stafford’s Extension

Matthew Stafford

Reacting to the extension the Lions gave Matthew Stafford, Bob Quinn said Tuesday that the quarterback’s presence was one of the reasons he agreed to become the team’s general manager in 2016 (Twitter link via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News). Quinn could now have Stafford under wraps through 2022 on a pact worth up to $151.5MM, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

The contract represents a firm three- to four-year commitment, per Florio, who adds that the final two seasons of the accord carry non-guaranteed, team-held options worth $19.5MM and $22.5MM, respectively. Even if the Lions bail on Stafford after 2020, he’ll still have raked in $108.5MM via this agreement. The deal features $92MM in total guarantees and a $50MM signing bonus, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets. Both of those figures are NFL highs, as are Stafford’s $60.5MM guaranteed at signing and three-year cash flow ($51MM-$67.5MM-$87MM), Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (on Twitter).

Here’s the yearly breakdown, courtesy of Florio:

  • 2017: Fully guaranteed base salary of $1MM.
  • 2018: Guaranteed-at-signing base salary of $9.5MM; guaranteed-for-injury roster bonus ($6.5MM) due on the fifth day of the league year; $500K workout bonus. The roster bonus becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of the league year.
  • 2019: Base salary ($13.5MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing and becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 – not ’19 – league year. The $5.5MM roster bonus is guaranteed for injury at signing and, like the base salary, becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 league year. There’s also a $500K workout bonus.
  • 2020: $15MM base salary; $6MM roster bonus that’s guaranteed for injury at signing, becomes fully guaranteed in the 2019 league year and is due on the fifth day of the 2020 league year; $500K workout bonus.
  • 2021: $9.5MM base salary, $500K workout bonus.
  • 2022: $12.5MM base salary, $10MM roster bonus due on the fifth day of the league year, $500K workout bonus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions, Matthew Stafford Agree To Extension

The Lions and Matthew Stafford have agreed to a five-year extension that will make the quarterback the highest-paid player in NFL history, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms (via Twitter) Stafford’s deal surpasses Derek Carr‘s per-year value.

It’s a five-year, $135MM deal for Stafford, Rapoport tweets. That comes out to $27MM per year in new money, putting Detroit’s franchise passer well north of Carr’s $25MM AAV.

This ties Stafford to the Motor City through 2022, and the Lions — per this GIF on their Twitter account, making it official in unique fashion — are pretty excited about it

Stafford and the Lions have been in talks for much of this offseason, and he now has a third Lions contract in place. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press said (via Twitter) Stafford underwent an MRI earlier today, noting that represented the final step between the signal-caller and the landmark accord.

The Lions quarterback’s contract will raise the NFL annual salary ceiling more than Carr or Andrew Luck‘s deals did, with Carr’s per-year value coming in less than $500K per year more than the Colts passer received in 2016.

Bob Quinn said earlier this month he was confident the sides would reach an extension agreement, and the second-year GM now has his quarterback signed into the next decade. Stafford was entering his contract year. He’s on the Lions’ books for $22MM this season. Detroit entered Monday night with just less than $7MM in cap space, and Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets Stafford’s re-up is expected to create approximately $5MM in 2017 space.

Stafford has been the Detroit starter for the past eight seasons, and while he doesn’t have the accolades or the numbers the league’s top-tier quarterbacks do, he had leverage going into a contract year in an extreme sellers’ market. The 2009 No. 1 overall pick has made one Pro Bowl, in 2014, and has a 5,000-plus-yard season (2011) on his resume. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards as well. The Lions are also just 51-58 during Stafford’s tenure, but the quarterback capitalized on being a prime passer with leverage.

The Georgia product, though, shook the injury concerns that plagued him in his early 20s. After playing in just 13 games combined in 2009-10, Stafford has suited up for every Lions game since. While he’s yet to win a playoff game, he helped the franchise out of its 2000s abyss and guided Detroit to playoff berths in 2011, ’14 and ’16 after the franchise went 11 seasons without a playoff berth.

This deal represents major news for the next crop of quarterbacks who are in or nearing contract years, and the financial landscape’s shifted to point where $30MM AAV will not be an outrageous figure in the near future. Considering the cap could push $180MM in 2018, the quarterback market figures to further escalate.

Kirk Cousins could become a free agent next year, and Drew Brees‘ year-to-year arrangement with the Saints will require another contract if he’s to stay in New Orleans. Matt Ryan will enter 2018 in a contract year — if no extension is reached in 2017. Aaron Rodgers‘ deal expires after the 2019 season. So does Tom Brady‘s, if he’s intent to play through that point.

And this group of (largely) more accomplished players saw the bar raise considerably Monday night.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions’ Matthew Stafford Hasn’t Set Deadline

There’s still a big gap between the Lions and Matthew Stafford in contract talks, but the quarterback is staying patient for now. Stafford says that he has not imposed a deadline for extension talks.Matthew Stafford (vertical)

[RELATED: Lions Notes: LTs, Tabor, Quin]

As far as the deadline goes, it’s something I’ll talk to my agent about,” Stafford told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM. “I’m not worried about it at the moment. The contract, it’s really not too difficult for me to not think about. The only time I really talk about it is with [the media]. Guys in the locker room know it’s all about football. They’ve all been through these situations before. I’m just trying to do everything I possibly can to be as good a football player as I can be and lead our team.

Sometimes, players will ask that extension talks cease before Week 1 in order to avoid distractions during the season. It’s also a smart way to hurry things along when talks stall. Stafford didn’t guarantee that he won’t set a deadline, but it’s noteworthy that he has not done that yet.

Stafford, 29, is coming off of the best season of his career. An extension with the Lions would likely make him the highest-paid player in the NFL. And, when all is said and done, he could wind up as the league’s top earner of all-time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Stafford, Donald, Packers, Cards

There have been talks throughout the offseason that the Lions are confident that they’ll get franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford to ink an extension. General manager Bob Quinn expressed those same sentiments to fans on Saturday prior to the team’s “mock game.”

“Matt has taken this situation with his contract in stride,” Quinn said (via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein). “It doesn’t bother him and it doesn’t bother me. I’m confident we’ll get something done.

“There’s a long way to go on that, but it’s good on both sides.”

Stafford, 29, is set to enter the final year of his contract, and Rothstein writes that the former No. 1 overall pick could be in line to become the NFL’s highest-paid player. We learned earlier this week that there was still a “substantial gap” between Stafford’s asking price and Detroit’s offer.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • We learned last night that the Rams and Aaron Donald remain on “amicable” terms despite the interior defender’s holdout. Despite the relative optimism, head coach Sean McVay said not much as changed in regards to negotiations. “Not to this point,” McVay said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “Kind of still same as. Hopeful and waiting for some day when we get that good news, but in the meantime we move on and like we’ve said before – confident that he’s working hard while he’s not here and trust that when we do get that worked out hopefully he’ll be ready to go and there won’t be any setbacks. It’ll be good to get him if we’re able to come to that decision and get that thing done.”
  • Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon is on track to return for Week 1, Bruce Arians said (via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). Bucannon is on the Active/PUP list presently after undergoing ankle surgery in May, and while Arians hopes the safety-turned-linebacker can have a 10-day preparation period before the regular season, the goal remains Week 1.
  • Tight end Emanuel Byrd will be auditioning for the Packers, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). The undrafted free agent out of Marshall initially signed with the Chiefs in May, but he was waived by the organization in late July.
  • Hall of Famer and former Eagles executive Jim Gallagher died Saturday at the age of 88 (via Philly.com’s Paul Domowitch). Gallagher started working for the organization back in 1949, and he served as the Eagles’ personnel director, public relations director, director of sales and marketing, and director of alumni relations until his retirement in 1995. “Jim was one of the kindest and most remarkable men you could ever meet,’’ Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said. “His dedication to this organization went far beyond the 46 years he spent here, and his impact was far-reaching…Everyone who was fortunate enough to meet Jim knows how much he loved the Eagles, but also how much he truly cared for and invested in the lives of others. To borrow one of his famous phrases, Jim was a ‘first-round pick.”

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Matthew Stafford, Lions Apart In Talks

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).Matthew Stafford (vertical)

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.

Lions Notes: Stafford, Quin, Caldwell, Decker

Although “internal optimism” exists regarding the Lions’ extension talks with quarterback Matthew Stafford, the veteran signal-caller says there’s “no timetable” guiding the negotiations, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (Twitter link). Although Stafford admitted that his agent Tom Condon is currently discussing a deal with Detroit, he told reporters he wasn’t sure if he’d allow negotiations to continue once the regular season gets underway, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com reports. Last month, Lions president Rod Wood implied he’d be “comfortable” making Stafford the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback, which would mean agreeing to an annual salary north of $25MM.

Here’s more from the Motor City:

  • Extension discussions are also underway between the Lions and safety Glover Quin, and Quin is confident an agreement will ultimately be hammered out, tweets Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Quin, 31, is entering the final season of a five-year, $23.5MM pact he signed prior to the 2013 campaign. Next season, he’s scheduled to a $4MM base salary and a $1MM roster bonus while carrying a cap charge of ~$7.828MM. Quin’s annual salary of $4.7MM ranks just 27th among NFL safeties.
  • Lions head coach Jim Caldwell is also entering the final year of his contract, but he’s not worried about serving out the season as a lame-duck head coach, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. “I don’t even worry about it and I think I’ve tried to explain pretty well to you guys that there hasn’t been a time in my life where you operate under certain things,” Caldwell said. “You never know if you have a 15-year contract, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be fired tomorrow. So you always got to perform.” Through four seasons as Detroit’s head coach, Caldwell has posted a 27-21 regular season record and lead the club to two NFC Wild Card appearances.
  • Injured left tackle Taylor Decker is no longer wearing a sling and is “on track” in his rehab from a torn labrum, as Twentyman reports in a full article. Decker was projected to miss four-to-six months when he was originally injured in early June, meaning he could certainly be sidelined for the early portion of the 2017 season. In response, the Lions acquired former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson from the Lions and signed ex-Bills offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio.

Lions, Stafford Working Toward Deal

Less than a month ago, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125MM extension to become the NFL’s highest-paid player. Carr’s stay atop the league’s earnings mountain might not last much longer, though, as there’s “internal optimism” that the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford will agree to a new deal within the next two weeks, reports Stacey Dales of NFL Network (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com).

Matthew Stafford

Stafford’s entering the final season of the three-year, $53MM extension he signed in July 2013, but his next contract figures to obliterate that pact in value and could surpass Carr’s. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Stafford inked his current pact after a 20-touchdown, 17-interception showing for him and a 4-12 season for Detroit, and both he and the Lions have been far more successful since.

Stafford helped guide the Lions to a decent 34-30 record and two playoff berths over the past four seasons, and he’s now arguably fresh off the best two-year stretch of his career. Thanks in part to Jim Bob Cooter‘s promotion to offensive coordinator, Stafford tossed 56 TDs against 23 picks and completed upward of 67 percent of passes from 2015-16. He threw 24 scores and a meager 10 INTs last season, when both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus ranked him as the league’s eighth-best passer.

Given the 29-year-old Stafford’s strong output in recent seasons, the ever-rising salary cap and the importance of his position, a mega-deal looks like a formality. Lions president Rod Wood implied as much last month, saying he’d be “comfortable” making Stafford the league’s top-paid player and adding, “It’s a premium position, and you need to have a very, very good player at that position to be credible and be competitive, and I think we do have that, and we’re working on getting a deal done.”

Another sizable contract would be the third for Stafford, who had the benefit of entering the NFL as the No. 1 pick in 2009, shortly before the league introduced the rookie wage scale in 2011. His initial deal was worth $78MM over six years and included $41.7MM in guaranteed money. Having established himself as a quality signal-caller since then, the eight-year veteran is on a path to becoming one of the highest earners in league history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.