Lions, QB Stafford agree to $41.7M deal
Matthew Stafford, a former University of Georgia quarterback, and the Detroit Lions agreed on a six-year deal last night, his agents told The Associated Press.
Tom Condon and Ben Dogra, who represent Stafford, said the Lions will pay Stafford $41.7 million in guarantees and as much as $78 million.
Quarterback Matt Ryan, the No. 3 pick in last year's draft, was signed to a $72 million, six-year contract with $34.75 million guaranteed by the Atlanta Falcons.
Detroit desperately needs a quarterback to help turn around the NFL's first 0-16 team, which has had the worst eight-year stretch in the league since World War II, and is turning to Stafford after he was a starter in each of his three seasons at Georgia.
The Lions will formally take Stafford with the No. 1 pick in the draft today. They will have more chances to rebuild their team with the 20th overall selection, a second-round pick and a pair of slots in the third round.
Stafford will not be able to fix all the problems associated with a franchise that has been bad enough to go 31-97 since 2001.
But the Lions can't afford to draft another bust.
"Obviously, the draft is the biggest crap shoot there is," Stafford recently acknowledged.
First-year coach Jim Schwartz has said Detroit's staff studied Stafford extensively on film.
GOODELL ENVISIONS 17- TO 18-GAME SCHEDULE
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can envision a Super Bowl played in mid-February if the league expands its regular-season schedule to 17 or 18 games.
Team owners are expected to get a proposal, perhaps as soon as next month, that would eliminate two preseason games and add one or two to the regular schedule. Goodell said yesterday at a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors in New York such a format could push the Super Bowl back to President's weekend.
"The idea has merit, I think," he said. "You are taking the quality and improving it, taking two meaningless games and making them meaningful within the 20-game framework."
A Super Bowl that late in February could conflict with such other events as the Daytona 500, the NBA All-Star game and, every four years, the Winter Olympics.
Goodell outlined a scenario that would have two preseason games in August, followed by a dark week on Labor Day weekend, followed by the opening week. There still would be a bye for each team during the season and the week off between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. This year, that off weekend will be filled by the Pro Bowl.
Contest winner: Hawai'i's Rainier "Onyx" Herrera last month won a promotion sponsored by Monster.com and the NFL to become the league's "Director of Fandemonium." Herrera won $100,000, gets to attend the coin toss at the Super Bowl, call a play at the Pro Bowl and participate in on-field introductions at the London game: New England versus Tampa Bay on Oct. 25. But first, he'll announce the second-round draft pick today of his beloved Minnesota Vikings.