A Contract Extension for Stafford Is the Last Thing the Lions Should Worry About

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks on during a stop in play while playing the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on December 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Matt Stafford's contract isn't up until the end of the 2014 season, but according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions are interested in talking about an extension now.

I can't express how bad of an idea this is.

The Lions are currently just under the $121 million cap, at approximately $118 million. As Birkett points out at the end of the article, there are eight starters heading into free agency including Cliff Avril and Louis Delmas.

The only way this extension makes any logical sense is if "extension" is code for "restructured to be more cap-friendly."

While Stafford has put up two seasons of outstanding yardage totals in a row, he most definitely took a huge step back this season, throwing for just over 50 percent fewer touchdowns and dropping nearly a yard per attempt.

Now, clearly, there were extenuating circumstances to account for some of that. Beyond Calvin Johnson, his wide receivers were banged up and/or acting like morons. His offensive line, while fair, kept him on his toes and his run game fell short once again.

That said, it's sort of baffling why we're talking about an extension for a starter with a couple of years remaining on his contract when there are so many other things which need attention and precious little cap space.

Looking at the three biggest contracts for the Lions, it's already eyebrow-raising. Stafford and Calvin Johnson account for over $30 million of the cap, with Ndamukong Suh (one of the last of the pre-rookie scale players) is at $18 million. Nate Burleson at $6.5 million is high (though not as high as I thought initially), as is Stephen Tulloch at $4.8 (who goes up to $5.8 and then $7.3 by 2016).

The Lions have been giving out some really chunky contracts and some of them are ending up with some questionable returns.

Locking down a guy you believe is your franchise quarterback can make sense in a lot of situations, but not when there are two years left, the quarterback still has some question marks surrounding him and the team is struggling to stay under the cap.

Give Stafford another year, then lock him down after the 2013 season. There is plenty of time and no need to rush.

Make sure you really do have your franchise quarterback and make sure you come up with a good long-term solution for your team's finances.

There are many other things the team needs to be focusing on going into the 2013 season.

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