LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD
Opening statement: "First off, I just want to thank the Ford family and the Lions organization for entrusting me to lead this team into the future at least the next five years, hopefully more than that. But I can't thank them enough. I've got to thank my teammates and coaches as well. You know, obviously without those guys, none of this would be possible. And then the fans, you know, sticking by us through thick and thin. I'm just happy that I'm going to be here for another five (years) getting this team going in the right direction. I promise you nobody's going to work harder than me to get this team going in the right direction winning games and going to the playoffs multiple years in a row. That's the plan. That's the whole reason I signed this deal, to be here and turn this thing in the right direction and make sure it stays that way for a long time. You know, I'm excited about it and I can't wait for the season coming up. Just thanks to the front office working hard on this. You know, it seemed like it took forever, but it was a deal that I'm extremely happy to sign and I'm happy to be here for a long time."
On how much of a relief it is to have the contract out of his mind: "Yeah it is. You know, one of the reasons that was it was in my head early on for signing it is, you know, I don't want to go for the next three years talking about, ‘Well, you've got two years left, you've got one year left, now you're getting franchised.' I mean, that's just something I'm not about. I want to be about the team. I want to help the team out if I can in cap space, whatever it is. I want good players around me as a quarterback. It doesn't hurt to have weapons and, you know, if I can help out anyway I can, I'm happy to do it."
On his deal helping with roster cap space: "You know, I would assume so. I mean, I don't know the plans, obviously. Nobody does. You know, you come into training camp, people get cut and signed and all that kind of stuff. But I know it creates some space and, you know, I was happy to do it. Like I said, I want this team to be great and in order to that, you've got to have good players. Anything I can do to help that, I'm all for it."
On why he decided on three years as opposed to a longer extension: "You know, it was just something that I think the front office here and my agent kind of just talked it through and, you know, that was one of the first things we talked about is length of it. You know, I think it obviously solidifies me here for another five (years) and it also gives me the opportunity to be 28 or 29 maybe and have a chance to do another one here and stay here for a long time. So, you know, it's just the way it worked out this year and the number of years is insignificant to me."
On possibly taking advantage of a larger contract next year after a successful season: "You know, there were people out there that wanted me to do that and I thought about it. But I wanted to do what was right for the club and what was right for me. You know, like I said months ago when you guys didn't believe me and I said I'm not in it to sign mega contracts, I'm in it to win games and, you know, I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to do what I can to help this club and get as many players around as we can."
On how he deals with the thought of a new extension: "I honestly don't think about it. Like I said, I don't come in here and work harder or play harder or practice harder because I'm making this much or that much. It doesn't matter to me. You know, I understand I'm extremely blessed and very lucky to make what I make, but at the same time, it's not on my mind every day. I'm out here doing this because I want to win and I've always been that way."
On how he views the extension will change his life: "I don't know. I'll let you know, but it's obviously a blessing. You know, it's an unbelievable opportunity for me and for this team so I'm excited."
On his mindset now compared to when he signed his rookie contract: "You know, I think I've spent the last four years making this locker room now and I think this helps solidify that. I think the guys in there understand that and know that. It's obviously a great gesture by the club, you know, to understand that and to back me. Like I said earlier, I appreciate it all from the top down, the Fords through the front office and the coaching staff and their belief in me. You know, it's just a great honor."
On where the team stands heading into training camp: "It's an exciting time. You know, I feel great physically and mentally ready to go. I know all the guys are. You know, we're excited to get back out there as a team and kind of get the bad taste out of our mouth from last year and I'm going to be the one spearheading the charge and getting this going in the right direction."
On how much he appreciated the Lions' support after staying in Michigan in the offseason: "Yeah, absolutely. You get a taste of it everywhere you go and I understand that. You wouldn't want it any other way as a player. You know, you want to play for a passionate fan base and that's what we have here. We're lucky that they expect the best out of us and we intend to give that to them."
On the signing process: "Yeah, signed it about five minutes ago. Been in the works for a little bit and just trying to hammer out the details, obviously that kind of stuff. But it took an incredible amount of work from Tom (Lewand) and my agent, Tom, too. So, you know, I'm just the lucky guy that gets to sign it."
On comparing his extension to the likes of QBs Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers: "Hopefully a Super Bowl ring. That's what those guys have. League MVP, Super Bowl rings, years of experience doing it, all of that. You know, I think that's what is a great opportunity for me the next four or five years to get to that level and hopefully stay with this organization for a long time."
On what he has to do to get to the next level as a player: "I think it's just continuing to improve in every aspect. Leadership, on the field, off the field, whatever it is, just trying to take control of this thing and make it go in the right direction. You know, I think our front office did a great job this offseason in giving us weapons on offense, defense, special teams. It didn't matter, we went out and got guys and it's great to see that kind of dedication and commitment from them. It makes us as players, you know, excited for the year to come and we're definitely excited for this year."
LIONS PRESIDENT TOM LEWAND
Opening statement: "Well, there's not a lot I can add to that except to say really there are two people who are responsible for this extension getting done. The first is Mr. Ford, who early on made a commitment to Matthew (Stafford) as his franchise quarterback, as the guy who can lead this franchise in the future. The second is Matthew. He really drove this process and I think he was before you guys very humble, as he has been since he's been here. But this process started back in February when he was in here by himself, nobody else in the building. He was here working out, he was here getting better, he was here looking to the future and looking to the season. Part of that process, and he referenced it, is becoming a leader in the locker room, a leader on the field, a leader off the field, and he has worked incredibly hard at all phases of that over the last few years, but particularly this offseason. He worked hard on the contract front and for him, it really was more about the process, more about being here, more about solidifying himself as the leader of this team and of that locker room than it was about every last zero or every last dollar and cent on the contract. Without his active involvement and his leadership, I don't think we're standing here talking about it today."
On if he has ever had a quarterback more invested in the team than Stafford: "No, I think Matthew has, my old coach (Bo) Schembechler used to call it, moxy. It's that something else that's hard to define, and Matthew has that. He has that work ethic, he's got the personality, he's got the leadership characteristics. Those are the kinds of things that make him the worker that he is. He cares passionately about this football team, about his teammates, about winning, and he's come to care as passionately about this community. That is really a testament to him as an individual and a testament to his teammates and the people that are around him and the coaches that have helped him make the transition in the NFL."
On how important it was to get Stafford's contract done this offseason: "Well, it's no different than what I said back in March when I first talked to you guys about it. This was much more about Matthew Stafford being here for a long period of time and everybody in our locker room, around our fan base knowing that he's our quarterback for the foreseeable future. And as Matthew said, it's for the next five years and hopefully longer than that. That's the reason to do this. It never started and ended with cap relief. That's a component of this, clearly. I think that's a part of it and Matthew made it known. As we were talking about it the other day and signing it again this morning, you know, we were already talking about how we are going to use this room. You know, what can we do with it? Because he does care about, as he said, the players around him and his teammates and being successful as an organization, being successful as a team. So, it was important, and it was important too to remove that dialogue. Not that Matthew would let it become a distraction or that we would let it become a distraction, but as he said, he was not the kind of person that wants to go into next year talking about one year left on a contract or possibly going into a franchise tag. This way we avoid that. We do it in a way that makes sense for both sides. I think it's a fair agreement for both sides, and most importantly, it allows all of us to move forward on the path that we collectively want to go down for this franchise."
On what he plans to do now with the cap space: "We'll continue to use it in a way that maximizes the effectiveness for the teammates around him. You saw how we executed our offseason plan this year, both in free agency and the Draft. You see how Martin (Mayhew) continues to act in a way that's consistent with his ongoing message about the Draft or free agency not being the finish line and always looking at ways to add good players. In order for us to do that, we've got to have the flexibility within the cap to continually add good players. And then we need to look to that young nucleus of talent that we have, some of those guys who are entering the last years of their rookie contracts, and begin to look to the future and extending those guys as well."
On if this process was easier because of Stafford's involvement: "Well, I think Matthew's involvement made it a very productive conversation because it was a little different than a typical negotiation in that his interests and the team's interests were far more in alignment than sometimes is the case in a typical negotiation. A lot of times the player's interest is in maximizing the dollar amount, is in protecting his own, personal interest, which is perfectly understandable and legitimate. In this case, it was really about how the franchise can move forward with Matthew as our quarterback and with the best players around him and doing it in a way that was much more in alignment than is typical."
On if there was any talk about only a potential one-year extension: "No, I don't think that's the way. We don't want to do this with smoky mirrors. It's got to be logical and I think that's one of things with this contract. It's got logical, manageable cap numbers for the duration."
On if he considered making the extension longer: "Well, I think certainly that was discussed. I think this is the right term and the right figures, whether those are the dollar amounts or whether those are the years involved in the contract. As Matthew said, he's in a process to talk about this again at 28 or 29 or 30 years old and it's our hope that we'll be doing the same thing. So, it's the right way, I think it's the right way to address all of our concerns and all of our goals collectively for the organization and for him as our quarterback."