It was just a few days ago when Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he’s hopeful a deal will be done with Matthew Stafford later in the summer. Just days before that, Stafford himself said “I definitely want to sign an extension here.”
Now, Lions president Rod Wood is expressing his confidence in getting a deal done. Wood spoke to ESPN earlier in the week and seemed to imply that he’s willing to make Stafford the highest-paid player in NFL history.
In response to that notion, Wood said, "I'm comfortable in getting a deal done with him, and we'll see where that ends up. It's going to be whatever it takes, I think, to make it happen from both sides.”
While Wood refused to outright claim that he’s willing to give Stafford that record-breaking deal, he did concede that that’s how negotiations with top quarterbacks work in the league.
“Whether he becomes the highest-paid or not, it'll be a short-lived designation because, as [general manager] Bob [Quinn] said, and I think it's true, if you're in the top whatever of quarterbacks, when your time comes up, your time comes up and then somebody else's time comes up, and they become the highest-[paid player].”
So why hasn’t a deal been done yet? Well, there could be a few roadblocks along the way. Both sides may be waiting on a deal between Washington and Kirk Cousins. Cousins was franchised tagged this year and has until July 17 to either sign the franchise tender or come to a long-term deal.
Additionally, it’s not clear yet whether Stafford will be waiting for Derek Carr to reach an extension with the Oakland Raiders. Carr has previously said that he would like a deal done before training camp, but he, too, may be waiting on figures from Cousins’ new deal.
If Stafford is awaiting on both of those quarterbacks, negotiations could easily slide into training camp for the Lions. Wood did not provide a timeline for negotiations, but did admit he’s been more involved in these negotiations than those with other players.
"It’s a premium position, and you need to have a very, very good player at that position to be credible and be competitive, and I think we do have that, and we're working on getting a deal done."
At this point, just about every person involved in the negotiations—aside from Stafford’s agent—has spoken publicly about their desire to get a deal done. Though each side has a motive to publicly appear willing to negotiate, there is clearly enough legitimate interest from both parties to presume, fairly confidently, that a deal will get done before the 2017 season.