Stafford's new deal solidifies, and challenges, Lions future

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Signed roughly around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Lions final offseason top priority was checked off the list.

Matthew Stafford will officially be the quarterback in Detroit through 2017.

"I've spent the last four years making this locker room mine, and I think this helps solidify that," he said.

The new deal will pay Stafford $15 million annually over the next five seasons. It's a step below the contracts for the elite group of NFL quarterbacks, and the Lions signal caller wasn't shy to admit why.

"A Super Bowl ring. That's what those guys have. League MVP, Super Bowl rings, years of experience doing it," Stafford explained.

Team President Tom Lewand applauded Stafford's involvement throughout the process, citing his quarterback's interest in what the extension would do to help the team's salary cap situation.

Lewand said the cap space the deal creates wasn't a main issue during the negotiations, but was one Stafford invested attention towards. In the end, the Lions got a deal done they feel is fair for both sides.

"He's already talking to me: 'Alright, how are we gonna use this room? What can we do with it?'" Lewand said.

The deal wraps up in 2017, and will give Stafford a chance to prove he's worthy of a big payday before his 30th birthday.

"It solidifies me here for another five, which is fantastic. It also gives me an opportunity to be 28 or 29 maybe, and have a chance to do another one here and stay here for a long time," he said.

For now, a main focus of the offseason is done, and the Lions have a deeply rooted strength at a position of change for so long in the city.

"This was much more about Matthew Stafford being here for a long period of time, and everyone in our locker room, in our fan base knowing he's our quarterback," Lewand said.

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ in Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli

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