Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 7/9/13
The Detroit Lions are on the verge of locking up their franchise quarterback through the 2017 season. Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, wasn't going anywhere. He had two years remaining on his original contact. The Lions aren't about to let him get away and Stafford seems intent on trying to win in Detroit. But it's good for both sides to get the deal done now, three weeks before training camp opens, to remove any speculative doubt going forward. Once all the final details are worked out and the contract is signed, the three-year extension is expected to be worth around 40 million guaranteed, including more than half of that coming in a signing bonus. Stafford is the latest high-end NFL quarterback to sign an extension this off-season, following Baltimore's Joe Flacco, Dallas' Tony Romo, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and New England's Tom Brady. While most assumed that Stafford's extension would be longer in length - perhaps six or seven years - the new agreement makes sense for both sides. It gives the Lions some immediate salary-cap relief, creating as much as possibly 5 million each of the next two years in additional cap space. That could help the Detroit re-sign defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to an extension sometime in the next year, too. The Lions also won't be financially committed to Stafford for the long term in case there's an injury or he doesn't live up to being their franchise quarterback. Stafford, meanwhile, will be in line for another significant contract once the deal expires, when he'll be just about to turn 30. He'll also have the opportunity to leave Detroit at that time if the Lions can't turn the franchise into a consistent winner over the next five seasons. Stafford, 25, is one of only four quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a season, along with Brady, Drew Brees and Dan Marino. He led the Lions to the playoffs in 2011 while throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. Stafford and the team, however, took a step back last season. The Lions finished 4-12 and Stafford only passed for 20 touchdowns.
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