Detroit Lions

Lions GM: Matthew Stafford extension talks in “early stages”

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The Detroit Lions are in the early stages of negotiations with Matthew Stafford on a contract that could make the quarterback the highest-paid player in the NFL, general manager Bob Quinn said Thursday night during a question-and-answer session with season-ticket holders at Ford Field.

The Lions opened preliminary talks on a new deal with Stafford last month around the NFL combine, but no contract is expected until this summer.

“It’s not done yet,” Quinn said . “We’re in the very early stages of talking to Matthew and his representatives. Matthew’s a quarterback that I want here, and he’s a quarterback that coach (Jim) Caldwell wants here, so we’re in the early stages. It takes two sides to do a deal, and we’re working toward that.”

Stafford is entering the final year of an extension he signed in 2013 and is expected to command a new deal that makes him the highest-paid player in the NFL at around $25 million a season.

Stafford, 29, is coming off one of the best seasons of his eight-year career. He was sixth in the league in passing yards (4,327), and did it while completing 65.3 percent of his passes — the second best season of his career — and throwing just 10 picks. That was a career low for a full season.

He also guided eight fourth-quarter comebacks, a league record, which powered the Lions’ playoff push.

Stafford’s big season silenced many of his critics, with some maintaining he’s not worth what it will cost to sign him. With each franchise quarterback getting more than the last these days, he could fetch more than the $24.6 million annually that Andrew Luck got from Indianapolis last year.

But Quinn says when he looks at the poor quarterback play around so much of the country, he’s reminded of just how good the Lions have it with Stafford.

“It’s interesting when we’re sitting down in draft meetings the last couple weeks and we go through every position no matter if we need one or not,” Quinn said. “And you look across the country and there’s really a lack of quarterbacks when you look at across the NFL and college football. So I think we’re fortunate situation to have Matthew as a member of our team and we’re hoping to make that a long-term thing.”

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