Despite the fact that Matthew Stafford still has two years left on his contract, the Lions have been negotiating a new contract with the 2011 Comeback Player of the Year and were recently reportedly close to closing a deal.
But that was April and this is June and no new deal is done. And although there's still time to get something hammered out before the season, Lions president Tom Lewand said that if a deal isn't done by the time the season begins, the team will table talks until next offseason.
“We've still got some discussion to have, but at some point in time we'll either get a deal done or we'll focus on football,” Lewand told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free-Press at a charity softball event hosted by Nate Burleson and Stephen Tulloch. “It's a different dynamic when you have two years left on a contract versus one. Most of them get done with a year left. And we've worked through a lot of those issues and continue to do that, want to continue the dialogue.
"But at some point in time we'll either have a deal or we'll agree that the focus needs to be on what's going on on the field."
It's a smart move, particularly given that time isn't necessarily an issue with Stafford's deal. He's not facing a Joe Flacco or Matt Ryan situation where he'll run out of time left on his first deal and the team will have a franchise-or-let-him-walk situation on their hands.
“Again, I think it's atypical for us to enter into discussions with Matthew with two years left on his deal, and I'm very glad we have,” Lewand said. “I think it's been a very productive process that may result in an agreement, and I certainly think will result in an agreement at the right point in time, and that may be soon and it may be a little bit later, but the process itself has been very valuable."
This is a case where the sort of negotiating taking place is extremely helpful -- figuring out what Stafford's side wants from the Lions, and figuring out what the Lions want to offer Stafford gives both sides a nice baseline for negotiating.
Worst-case scenario? The two sides don't reach a deal and get to re-evaluate after a very critical 2013 season for the current Lions front office and roster as they try to bounce back from a dismal 2012 after making the playoffs in 2011.