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One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.

4/23/2009

Stafford deal has to happen

Still nothing to report in the way of a done deal on the Matt Stafford front, but a league source I traded e-mails with this morning said it's “got to happen” and the Lions will face “a PR nightmare” if it doesn't.

The truth is, now that it's become crystal clear both sides want a deal, both parties risk disaster if they don't come to an agreement. From the Lions' standpoint, most fans would be happy in the moment because, according to reports from Booth Newspapers and ProFootballTalk.com, they'd get their No. 1 choice in linebacker Aaron Curry. But imagine if Stafford went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career with the Rams or Redskins, the Lions would have passed on their John Elway for a few measly bucks, not because they didn't want him.

Beyond that, Yahoo reported that new Lions coach Jim Schwartz has been the biggest champion of Stafford as the No. 1 pick, even convincing general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand that was the way to go. I don't think failing to land Stafford would harm that coach-GM relationship interminably, but it would hang over their heads (and presumably be in the back of their minds) when things eventually go sour, as they always do.

From Stafford's standpoint, any public-relations haze would be much easier to overcome. Ask Elway, who got his way out of Baltimore years ago and is one of the most beloved figures in Denver sports history. Still, in this wretched economy, Stafford would be vilified for his contract stance (his agent's actually, but you get my point) and if slid out of the top five – I wouldn't expect it to happen, but who knows – he stands to risk a lot of money and prestige.

Stafford is no slam dunk as a prospect, though in Detroit he's going to a system and situation (where presumably he'll sit for a period behind Daunte Culpepper, unless he's clearly better) that gives him the best chance to succeed. That's why it's just a matter of time before this deal gets done.

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35 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

after reading that schwartz has been the driving force for bringing stafford here, i'm now more than ok with him being the pick. since he's gonna sign either today or tomorrow, hopefully, every other lions fan will be too. thanks for the great info/updates, dave. so glad i found this blog.

8:48 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stafford would be a fool not to take the deal. Hold firm Lions since the consolation prize is Curry. A huge number of fans hope Stafford walks away from the deal.

8:53 AM 
Anonymous LionsFaninMA said...

I can't see Stafford not taking a deal with the Lions. He wants to be #1 overall. There's a lot of prestige that goes along with that and he definitely wants to be a #1 guy.

9:08 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm stunned that it would be Schwartz as the one pushing to draft Stafford. I figured he would have more sense then that.....Oh well....If Stafford fails Schwartz just signed his 3 and out failure in Detroit, and his head coaching faith to Linehan

9:18 AM 
Anonymous Myth said...

"But imagine if Stafford went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career with the Rams or Redskins, the Lions would have passed on their John Elway for a few measly bucks, not because they didn't want him."Would it be any better if they pass on their Orlando Pace/Anthony Munoz or Dick Butkis/Brian Urlacher/Ray Lewis? Stafford has a higher bust percentage than any of the top 3 OTs or Aaron Curry.

Asking Stafford to be the "face of the franchise" is stupid. Thank you, Dave, for not using it...ever. Every time I hear this term, I know that person is talking out of their butt. The best player on the team is the "face of the franchise," and Stafford will always fall short of Calvin Johnson in this regard. You don't become the "face of the franchise" until you can prove you are the best player on the team over a span of time. Therefore, no rookie is going to be that "face of the francise" and it's ridiculous to draft for that.

9:21 AM 
Blogger DetFan1979 said...

Don't see the PR nightmare -- what if tehy pass on Curry to take the glamour pick QB when Curry was showing it isn't about the money by taking less -- and goes on to be the next Ray Lewis?

If you are picking #1, and it comes down to 2 guys, then you are always screwed PR wise if you go with the "wrong" guy.

Stupid argument. Stafford and his agent have been playing up the "I WANT to come to Detroit, it's not about the money" -- now Mayhew has called his bluff.

If Stafford doesn't do it, he can say what he wants but everyone will know it's about the money.

What about St.Louis at #2? Or Seattle at #4? Both have older, injury plagued QB's that they could put Stafford under for a year or two ala rodgers/favre...

It is possible Condon finds the same deal or slightly better a few picks down -- like with Ryan last year...

9:30 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonder how much more schwartz wants stafford than he does curry.

9:32 AM 
Blogger Dave Birkett said...

Myth, I agree with you, but the difference is the Lions have identified Stafford as the player they'd most like at No. 1. They're already decided they want him over Curry and Smith. If they draft one of the others, I'm sure that player will be fine, but a segment of people always will look at it like they fell into that choice. More to the point, if they don't draft Stafford everyone knows the only thing keeping them from doing so is money.

9:33 AM 
Anonymous Bobbymack said...

Comparing Stafford to Elway is way off base(I know you mean the situation not the player) but that said I hate to hear Stafford name attached to any other player, he's a inconsistent College QB that would fall out of the top 10 if we don't draft him at number 1

Elway>Stafford

Not even close

9:38 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any word on what the deal worked out with Curry is worth? Is it more similar to Jake Long's or Ray Lewis' latest deal? Any chance he comes down even further as the Stafford deadline nears?

9:43 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schwartz if he really is a draft Stafford advocate, just hitched his horse to a 3 and out head coaching career if Stafford fails.

9:46 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If, if, perhaps, maybe. Missed their John Elway??
You just said everything everyone needs to know.
Matthew Stafford is not a lock to be the next John Elway, and in fact, based on past top end QB picks, and past Junior QB's, he has less of a chance to be the next John Elway and more of a chance to be the next Joey Harrington.
A few measley bucks means the Lions aren't going to play jerk around with him or his agent. If Condon fishes around and finds that teams below the Lions will pay the extortion rates that he may feel a junior QB rates, then so be it. Frankly, if Matthew Stafford is worth money in the neighborhood of 70 million dollars, all this fine talk about him sitting and learning the offense is hogwash....Mr. Ford needs to get those bucks back in a hurry and the best way to get return on investment is to use the player-now. And playing him before he is ready will do him no good, and probably get him injured in the process.

9:50 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Stafford deal has to happen"

Why Dave, because you stuck your neck out yesterday with a story the Lions shot down and they have to go through with it?

9:51 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lions don't care what the fans think. I mean, these are the same fans who went wild with glee when the Lions chose Mike Williams right? Don't forget that.

These guys know Stafford better than any fan. This isn't Millen we are talking about. Mayhew, Schwartz and co. have seen every single college and high school snap Stafford has taken that is available to be seen. They know better than any fan what they have there.

I also don't agree with the source who thinks it would be a PR nightmare.

The Lions have never officially gone on record as saying they want Stafford over Curry. If they pass on Stafford and go with Curry, they'll put some kind of spin on it and most people will believe it.

Not a big deal in my opinion.

9:52 AM 
Blogger Sid said...

Stafford Wife logic.

They always want to take the QB high out of fear he will be the next Elway.

This zealousness is almost always accompanied by a thorough lack of analysis of the player. Just an irrational hope he is a savior

9:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, I am not certain that money would prevent the Lions from taking him if they really have no doubts about him.
The Lions have set a ceiling for payment of services, not a bad thing to do in a poor economy. If Stafford and Condon do not wish to come in under that, then the Lions would have two options....stick to their guns, which to me would mean they are good negotiators, or they simply have nagging doubts which prevent them from exceeding the ceiling they set, or both.
In any case, I believe that money alone would not be the sole driving factor in a decision to move toward Aaron Curry or Jason Smith.

9:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops. Forgot to add.... Second option would be to cave and pay the money. I believe they would go the other route.

9:57 AM 
Anonymous Freebird said...

I don't see the PR nightmare for the Lions if Stafford isn't the pick.

The detroitlions.com poll indicated 37% of the fans wanted Curry; only 23% wanted Stafford. That also means 77% want someone other than Stafford. At the logo unveiling, fans chanted for Curry, not Stafford. Thus, the Lions aren't going to have a PR problem with the fans if Curry is the pick.

Lions fans have had 8 years of losing during the Millen era. Guys like me who have had season tickets since 1990 want to see IMMEDIATE results. Curry will provide immediate help; Stafford will probably hold a clipboard, then experience a couple years of growing pains after that.

Quite frankly, if the Lions take Stafford and go 3-13, I won't be renewing my season tickets. If they take Curry and at least show the effort to win now, I'd be more inclined to cut them some slack.

9:59 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave-

I usually like your stuff but you are reaching now. And I don't like the fact that someone from "yahoo" said the coach is the one pushing for Stafford when the Lions up to this point have been very guarded about everything.

That is what got NFLDRAFTBIBLE in trouble....someone said...funny how Raji, Mathews and the other USC LB were cleared...all by because someone "said"

In light of that you are kidding yourself if you think it is a PR nightmare. Wasn't like that for the Texans when they took Williams over Bush and VY. Wasn't like that for the Dolphins when they took Long over Long and Ryan...so why is it like that for the Lions??

Fact is ...Stafford here is the contract we are offering. If you are not going to sign this ...we will move on ...in this recession we are in you think the fans are going to bitch because the Lions couldn't sign him for a few million?? This is where the madness has to stop...and like Mayhew said..this system is upside down. This is a fiasco on Condon's part. Not the Lions. He is prolonging this. The Lions have the contract on the table....take it or leave it. And that is what bugs me...everytime the Lions do something the Detroit media is not too fond of it becomes a huge issue.

Its stoopid and you media guys don't want to reveal your sources and that is fine..I hope you called your source and asked them about why Ford and Lewand supposedly met yesterday but another site is reporting they did not meet....well someone is full of it....just like the yahoo guy "saying" Schwartz is pushing for Stafford...yeah..okay..

10:03 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, If the Lions pass on Stafford and take Curry, wouldn't there still be a chance to take Freeman at #20 or even #33? Also if the Lions do pass on a deal with Stafford because of money, couldn't it mean that they understand that a deal with Curry would be easier to recover from if either is a bust?

10:25 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stafford is going to be a bust. He isn't going to be Elway. He is more like ELi Manning. A game manager more than a game changer because that is what he was at UGA.

The Lions have fallen in love with the guys physical ability, but have obviously not paid much attention to his lack of on-the- field exploits.

10:30 AM 
Blogger Dave Birkett said...

Work on some draft stories for a few minutes and I come back to an avalanche of comments.

I'm not saying Stafford is going to be the next Elway. The point that was made to me by e-mail this morning, which I thought was valid, is that if Stafford has an Elway-type career, the Lions will be haunted by their decision to pass on him because of money. Myth made the point that would be the case if Curry and Smith go on to have Hall-of-Fame careers, too. My point is, the Lions stacked their board and Stafford is No. 1. He might not be on my board or your board, but I know I wouldn't lose out on my top choice over an insignificant (by NFL terms) amount of money and I don't think the Lions will either.

The public relations hit I referenced would not be immediate by any means. Just about everyone I've heard from in the fan base prefers Curry.

As for the yahoo article, here's a link to the story that mention's Schwartz's desire for Stafford:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=jc-condontalkingtolions042209&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

10:49 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah and they couldnt pass on Joey out of fear he was the next Dan Marino

11:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, I couldn't disagree with you more on this. Missing Stafford would be less of a PR nightmare than if they actually drafted him. You're playing 'what ifs' when every single situation is inherently a what if. From a psychological standpoint, the money is a huge one considering the economic situation of the state, Detroit, and thousands of fans. It says more about the Lions to actually save money and get a day one starter than to throw millions more on a 'what if'. Saving those millions in cap space will play more to the blue collar fans than anyone else. They are, after all, the fan base.

11:11 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all you idiots calling dave out, knock it off.

11:24 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what if Aaron Curry has a Seau/LT type career and Stafford has a Harrington esk career?

11:26 AM 
Blogger Dave Birkett said...

No, no. I don't mind disagreement and I like hearing all points of view. Everything said is valid and it makes me a better reporter. Sometimes people bring up points I wouldn't think of that I can then bounce off others such as the last one about the economics of the situation as it relates to the city. I just think that will be a footnote in time if Stafford goes on to a fine career.

The reality is, everything we're talking about now is hypotheticals and 'what ifs' because that's all we have. Hopefully Stafford and Curry both go on to have great careers. One will be a Lion. There's a lot of negotiating noise in the system right now, but at this point I still expect it to be Stafford.

11:34 AM 
Blogger Todd said...

Dave,
As usual great reporting this week and congrats on everything you have posted, you've been on top of your game. Of course everyone is getting a little heated now that this is so close to actually having our number 1 pick, and I myself just want to say how much we continue to appreciate your great insider reporting regardless of how this situation turns out! These are some very tense circumstances for fans right now who stick with this team through the thick and thin (mostly thin). I'm a die-hard fan from all the way out in Pennsylvania so I get ripped on even more out here for dying with 0-16 instead of jumping on the Eagles bandwagon. I love the fan base for our team and how passionate Detroit fans are! Like I said, keep up the good work Dave!

11:43 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^ditto. dave, can't sing your praises enough.

phenomenal journalist and an even better person. wish lions fans were more like you.

12:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave-

So basically you are saying the Lions are doomed either way..IF they don't sign Stafford and he goes on to have a Hall of Fame career they will be bashed. If they don't select Curry and he is perrenial Pro Bowler the Lions will be bashed...
So what freakin gives...? They have to select someone that is the bottomline. This projecting a player as being a Hall of Famer coming out of college is a joke....I am still waiting on Mel to explain why he thought Mike Williams was a Hall of Famer...

There is just too much credence given to some of these draft experts out there and they spread a lot of false info. ESPN had a mock taking Stafford at 1 and Moreno at 20...?? What the hell is that...??

I like when Polian went off on Kiper and I think more GM's should do it. Lot of those guys have never ran a 40 or caught a pass or been injured to know what it takes to be a pro football player.

Look Dave I like your articles and some of your insight..but this one rubbed me the wrong way. Lions don't "have" to take Stafford. That is truth. They don't "need" to select a QB this draft at all. How many QB's have they drafted in the past 6 years...haven't found one yet so what makes you think Stafford is the one now??

1:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, If you were in Martin Mayhew's shoes who would you take at number 1? Also is Jason Smith out of the question? and if so did Smith make the mistake of signing on with Condon who is the same agent of Stafford?

1:19 PM 
Anonymous Myth said...

The sources you've listed are anonymous and have been wrong in the past, so credibility is a key issue. Add in that lots of misinformation has been "leaked" so far this draft, this could be just another smokescreen.

Your argument hinges on the fact that they have clearly identified Stafford as their #1. That is a huge question-mark. Each have questions about their game, so it is nonsensical to commit the amount of money they are talking about. In a recession year (where even the NFL is job cutting), refusing to pay for a 20% increase over last year's largest QB deal, is sensible. Therefore, the PR ramifications would be negligible.

You may be absolutely correct that Schwartz wants Stafford, more-so than Mayhew does. But that doesn't really jibe with what Mayhew has said about the way that the draft room is going to function. If one guy has to lobby for a player, then that indicates that those lobbied have doubts. So, they should then move on the next guy.

Stafford has huge questions about his accuracy and consistency. Jason Smith has questions about his run blocking and ability to transition to putting a hand in the dirt. Eugene Monroe has questions about his knee. Curry's biggest question is whether a MLB is worth #1 money. There are questions about each of them. None are sure things, so to none should the Lions be committed before they sign on the dotted line.

1:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something else to think about: how well will Stafford deal with the adversity of playing for an organization that doesn't value him as highly as he thinks it should?
What's his attitude going to be like knowing that the majority of fans did not want him?
Hard enough to succeed when you really want to and feel you have support behind you.
I know how I feel when I have to do something for less than I think I'm worth.

1:48 PM 
Blogger Erick said...

Does anyone think that the Lions actually DO value Curry as the no 1 pick, and that all this talk now is just to save face if Stafford goes on to have an Elway like career? I.e. "We tried to sign Stafford, but he didn't want to agree to the terms we layed out for him. He was the guy we wanted, but we just couldn't work out a deal." I am no conspiracy theorist, but that move to me sounds like a way to please everyone. Draft the guy you want (and the guy that can help us where we need it most; defense), and still save face by claiming you wanted the other guy (if he turns out to be pretty good).

2:38 PM 
Blogger Dan said...

Dave, I can agree with everything but your quote from yahoo sports. This is a reporter quoting unamed sources, not much of a verification that Swartz is behind the Stafford pick.

12:38 AM 

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