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What Kirk Cousins’ lack of long-term deal means for Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions are on the clock.

Washington Redskins v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The deadline for franchise tagged players to reach a long-term deal has passed, and Kirk Cousins and Washington have failed to come to an agreement. That means that the former Spartan will play 2017 under the franchise tag deal worth $23.9 million. For Washington, that gives them another year of comfort without having to commit long-term to Cousins. Next year, they will have a few options, including using the franchise tag for the third-straight year on their quarterback:

But let’s put Cousins’ future on hold for a second and talk about what today’s news means for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford is entering the final year of his contract, and by all accounts, both he and the Lions want to get a long-term deal done in Detroit. Many believe both sides were waiting to see what happened with Cousins before hunkering down for a deal. So here’s what Cousins’ non-deal means for Detroit.

How it affects the money

Because a deal never came, this means both sides will only have Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million extension as a baseline for a new deal. Although Carr had a better statistical season than Stafford in 2016 and is three years younger, Stafford is expected to get a little more than that because he has played at a high level for several years now.

There was a chance that Cousins’ deal would have eclipsed Carr’s, which likely would have meant more leverage for Stafford and his agent. However, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero is reporting that Washington’s best offer put Cousins’ average annual salary between $20 and $23.9 million, significantly less than Carr’s $25 million per year.

But because the two sides never came to an agreement, we should only expect Stafford to get a deal slightly more than Carr’s.

How it affects Stafford’s timeline

Now that the deadline has passed for Cousins, there are no impediments to a deal getting done between the Lions and Stafford. No other dominoes need to fall. It’s just Bob Quinn vs. Matthew Stafford.

Looking at Bob Quinn’s first year, we’ll likely see one of two scenarios play out.

Last year, Detroit’s big contract extension was with cornerback Darius Slay, who signed a four-year, $48 million deal literally hours before the start of training camp. This was considered their biggest priority, and it’s why Detroit got it done before training camp. This is the logical route the Lions could take with Stafford.

However, that wasn’t the only contract extension the Lions made in 2016. Both Sam Martin and Theo Riddick received multi-year deals in the offseason, but well after training camp. Both signed contracts on September 9, two days before Detroit’s regular season opener against the Colts. If things don’t move as smoothly as expected, a deal for Stafford may get done right around then.

Of course, there is also the possibility that the two sides struggle to come to an agreement. While we’ve heard both parties express their willingness to get a deal done, we’ve yet to hear of any legitimate progress. There haven’t been any reports of the two sides “being close” nor have there been any signs of stagnation. However, that just seems to be the way Quinn operates. The Lions were extremely tight-lipped on the Slay negotiations, and the Riddick and Martin extensions came out of nowhere.

So now we wait as Stafford and the Lions are officially on the clock.