During a Tuesday news conference, both the Lions and Matthew Stafford painted a picture of friendly contract negotiations before agreeing on a five-year, $135 million extension late Monday night.
So amenable were talks that it doesn’t sound like Stafford or his agents gave too much thought to what is now being called the Kirk Cousins option. Cousins, who has twice signed the franchise tag in Washington, committed to play out his two one-year deals while using the guaranteed raises to dramatically increase his bottom-level salary whenever long-term talks are finally broached seriously. If Cousins is franchised again by the Redskins in 2018, he would make nearly $35 million next year.
“At certain points, at times, everything’s in play when you meet with my guys and [agent] Tom [Condon] and those guys at CAA, but in the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to be here,” Stafford told reporters. “From the first day I met with my representatives, after I talked with [general manager] Bob [Quinn] and those guys in February, that was the first question he asked me and I said, ‘Absolutely, I want to be in Detroit.’ And you never know if that’s always going to work out or not, but that was my wish and intention all the way back then.”
Stafford became the league’s highest-paid player and is also guaranteed roughly 70 percent of the total value. The $27 million per year leapfrogs deals signed by both Derek Carr and Andrew Luck over the past few months. While it sounds like there wasn’t much to haggle over, Quinn said that both sides made concessions.
Quinn said he was hoping to get a deal done after the first time he and Stafford talked about a contract in the winter, but was willing to talk into the 2017 regular season. Stafford seemed happy it did not come to that.
“It was important [to finish the deal before the regular season],” Stafford said. “It wasn’t something all along I knew was gonna be the case, but as it got into training camp a little bit, I realized that I think we have an extremely talented team and for us to be worried about, or anybody, even myself, about my contract situation to what it was going to be, was going to be a disservice to the organization, to our team, to the players in the locker room. So I wanted to get this thing done and then kind of realized that during training camp.”
With Stafford’s contract in the books, the real fun begins. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers are all rapidly approaching the end of their current deals and could do some serious damage to the quarterback salary market. Stafford can sit back and enjoy being the league’s highest-paid player for now.
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