ALLEN PARK, Mich. — With one season remaining on his contract, Matthew Stafford is doing his best to keep quiet about any negotiations for a new deal.
The Detroit quarterback says talks are ongoing and his agent handles them.
“I’m honestly pretty tired of talking about it,” Stafford said. “I’m going to be here playing for 16 games at least. Hopefully a lot more than that, but we’ll see.”
The Lions reported for training camp Saturday, and when Stafford spoke to reporters, he immediately faced questions about his contract. Stafford has played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Lions after they took him with the top pick in the 2009 draft, and he’s started every game for Detroit since the beginning of the 2011 season.
“Five years on the deal, one year on the deal, three years on the deal — there’s no difference to me as far as my preparation,” Stafford said. “No matter what happens, I’ve got a year left on my contract here, so I’m going to be here this year playing football for this team. So it’s on my shoulders to be as good as I possibly can to help our team win.”
Detroit has reached the postseason two of the past three years, but the Lions haven’t won a playoff game since the 1991 season. Stafford has already surpassed 30,000 yards passing for his career, and he was instrumental in helping Detroit pull off several late comebacks last season. Although the Lions still struggle against top competition, Stafford has taken them to the playoffs three times, and losing him would send the team down a path of uncertainty.
At 29, he should still be very much in the prime of his career.
“When you look at him from a physical standpoint, he’s always been in great shape this time of year, but he may be in better shape than he’s ever been at this point,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s just working at trying to improve all of the little things. Any edge he could possibly get, he’s working to try to get that edge. I’m pleased with his progress, he’s moving forward still and I still believe that you just have not seen the best of him yet. He’s still headed in that direction.”
Stafford would surely draw plenty of interest if he played out this season and became a free agent. He says he’s not preoccupied with that possibility.
“I’m not into all that. I’m really just into focusing on football and helping our team win,” Stafford said. “If I spend time thinking about all that kind of stuff, it’s doing a disservice to the guys in the locker room. I don’t want to hear about it, they don’t want to hear about it. We just want to go play football.”
NOTES: The Lions put DE Ziggy Ansah on the active/physically unable to perform list. They did not announce what his injury was. … Detroit also put G Brandon Thomas on the PUP list and put T Greg Robinson and DE Cornelius Washington on the active/non-football injury list. … The Lions removed T Cyrus Kouandjio and CB Teez Tabor from the NFI list. … Detroit has its first practice Sunday. … Caldwell is also entering the final season of his contract. He brushed off questions about that. “If you have a 15-year contract, doesn’t mean you’re not going to be fired tomorrow,” he said. “So, you’ve always got to perform.”
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