LIONS PRESIDENT TOM LEWAND QUOTE SHEET
On DT Ndamukong Suh's contract negotiations: "Well, I'll tell you, we've had a lot of conversations over the offseason and every one of the contract negotiations is different. In light of where we are, and most importantly getting ready for the season (and) keeping the conversation where it should be, we've decided to table the contract discussions with Ndamukong, any further contract discussions until after the season. I think it's the right thing for us to do, the right thing for the team and everybody involved, and allows us to keep the focus where it belongs. I remain tremendously confident, and Jim (Caldwell) said it yesterday in his press conference, we have a high degree of confidence that we can work out something that will be mutually satisfactory at the right time and the goal hasn't changed in the least. The timing is such, that the focus needs to be on the field, today, and so therefore we'll obviously be in touch. I talked to Jimmy Sexton on a regular basis, but we'll table any further substantive discussions until the appropriate time after the season."
On the reasoning behind the stalled talks: "I'm not going to get into details on the negotiations, I've never commented on the details of it. Every negotiation is different, and this one has got its own character to it. But again, we've had productive conversations and think it's the right thing for this team and it's the right thing for his teammates. Look, Ndamukong's not the only guy with an expiring contract. There are guys like Rob Sims, Nick Fairley and a lot of other guys that are a part of this team, too. We've had a lot of success over the years of getting contracts done in February and March, just like we have in getting contracts extended before they've expired. So whether that's Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson before they expire, or Brandon Pettigrew and DeAndre Levy and guys like that, after they've hit the last season of their contracts, we've got a good track record and it's been our experience that when you have two willing parties that are focused on a common goal, you can get that done regardless of timing. I still feel that way, very strongly, and I'm very optimistic about the outcome, but really feel like that with everything we've got going on and we need to keep that focus on the field."
On the mutuality of tabling discussions: "I'll let Ndamukong speak for himself, but there's no adversarial nature to this decision. We've had a lot of conversations about it, obviously Ndamukong's representative has been around a long time. Jimmy's done a lot of contracts and he understands the perspective and I think this is what's right for everybody."
On if the team would use the franchise tag on Suh: "We've got a lot of different options available to us and will consider those at the right point in time, but right now we're focused on the field."
On why he feels optimistic: "We've got a track record of extending players. As a matter of fact, it's hard for me to think of a whole lot of guys that we tried to extend that we haven't. There's a couple of guys that we haven't extended, who've gone out into the open market and haven't been successful in getting the financial terms that we had offered. But for the most part, we've had a really good history of matching intent with action when it comes to extending contracts whether that happens before a season, sometimes during a season. But I think in this case, those are generally done at the end of the season, when there's a little bit of cap room left or what-have-you, or after the season leading into free agency. I feel like we can build on that track record and come to a successful conclusion with Ndamukong (Suh) at the right point in time."
On the difficulty of adding another large contract to the team's payroll: "We've been involved in discussions this entire offseason and our cap situation is certainly not the holdup."
On how it would have helped if the deal was done: "No, I've been consistent since February, March. When we first started talking about this early February saying that the outcome of these discussions would not have a determinative effect on what we did in free agency and obviously they didn't, and they certainly wouldn't make any difference right now. If we were able to come/had been able to come to some sort of an extension agreement it wouldn't have affected the team that is taking the field today."
On his confidence that it won't be a distraction: "Yes, I really do think that our players are focused on the season. You heard it yesterday, and look, I don't think it is fair to guys like Stephen Tulloch and Dominic Raiola, who were talking yesterday to have to answer questions about their teammates' contracts. That's not what they should be focused on and not the questions that they need to be asked, and this will take it off the table for those guys. I think that is one additional consideration, not the sole one, but one additional consideration."
On if he has any information about the Bowl Game: "Yes, we do (have a sponsor). We're in the final stages of finishing up that agreement. We'll have an announcement here in the next couple of weeks, corresponding with the start of the college football season. We will be able to announce that. We feel very good about our partner. We will have all of that, definitive date, broadcast, etc. All of that will be forthcoming here in the next couple of weeks."
On if single-season ticket games are sold out: "They're close. We've tried to hold back some tickets for every game so that some individual ticket holders will have access to those. But obviously, Thanksgiving, Monday Night, things are getting pretty tight - Green Bay, those are all going to be real high-demand. We won't have a lot of availability and I'm presuming what we do have will go quickly."
LIONS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS AND GENERAL MANAGER MARTIN MAYHEW QUOTE SHEET
On if he's optimistic that the team can get a deal done with Suh: "Yeah, but I'm always optimistic. I feel good about it. We've done deals in the past with guys who've been under contract, whose deals have expired after the season has ended, like (Brandon) Pettigrew (and) Stephen Tulloch. I feel good about it. We have the formula for getting the guy signed. We have a player that wants to be here. We have a team that wants to keep the player. Those are the two most important things, I think."
On why he stays optimistic about the negotiations with Suh: "I guess it's because (Ndamukong) is telling the truth and we're telling the truth. He's told me he wants to be here. I have a good relationship with him. I know I want him to be here."
On what the holdup is on Suh's extension: "It's been my experience from doing this that when you get a deal done in five minutes, the player is not very good. It takes a little bit of time to get good players signed and it's a little bit more complicated than it is with guys who aren't very talented."
On why he thinks there has been a long delay on the negotiations: "It's been a complicated process. At the combine I thought around the start of free agency possibly. After the draft, I thought probably by now. And now I think probably next year."
On whose decision it was to table the talks: "I would say it was our decision. I think we're on the same page and that we should probably talk with them. From my standpoint, having experience doing this, having been through it as a player and not the same situation, but having contract issues during the season is not a good formula. I don't think it's conducive to guys being focused and doing their best. I know a lot of players think they can handle that situation, but sometimes they can't and they don't know until they get into it. I also think it's not really fair to the rest of our team. We're focused on playing football here. I don't like people asking other players about players' contracts. We have other guys whose contracts are expiring as well. I just did not think it was a good situation for us to move forward in. I thought it'd be better for us to focus on playing football this year. That's kind of where it came from."
On why this deal is different from WR Calvin Johnson's or QB Matthew Stafford's deals: "Those deals were very complicated as well. Those deals were tough to get done. As you guys recall, Calvin's went down to the last minute. We were trying to get that done at the end of the league year. Both of those deals were very complicated and sometimes they get done quicker and sometimes they don't. But this is one that's taking a long time to get done. I don't have a lot of detail to give you on that, but we still remain optimistic."
On what gives him confidence that a deal will get done before free agency: "I can't say that we will (get a deal done). I just feel confident he's going to play for us next year."
On his feelings towards not exercising DT Nick Fairley's final year of his contract: "Two totally different situations, two totally different players. Neither one affects the other. (Fairly and Suh) play the same position, that's they only similarity between the two of them."
On his assessment of Fairley: "Nick's had a good offseason, thus far. He's done a good job this offseason I think. Going back to last year, he had an injury at the end of 2012. It took him a while to get over that, which kind of set him back in terms of his preparation. But this year he's been healthy, he's been engaged, he's been in the weight room doing the things that we've asked him to do. So I've been happy with what he's done to date."
On the possibility of using the franchise tag on Suh: "I think it's possible. I wouldn't close the door on that. The (salary) cap will go up next year, as we know. Every year we have people concerned about our ability to function under the salary cap and thus far we've been able to go out into free agency every year and add to our team and make it better. (We've) been able to keep our own players, to extend some of our own players and function well with the cap and I think the cap's going to go up next year and probably the year after that too."
On if he feels the team needs to shop for more veteran depth at cornerback: "We're shopping for everything. We're always trying to get our football team better. Defensive backs, linebackers, defensive line, offensive line, every position. We're talking to people around the league about making moves and trades and are trying to upgrade all of the time. It never stops, it's never ending. We control the situation where we feel comfortable everywhere, but certainly secondary is a place we would look."
On what his expectations are for the season: "I expect guys to come out and play well, perform well. We have some quality talent on this team. We have a good coaching staff. I don't have a prediction. I'm not going to predict the number of wins, but I expect good football from the team."