University of Georgia

Deal set for Stafford, Lions

Everyone else wants to know, but Matthew Stafford swears he doesn’t care.

As negotiations between Stafford’s agent, Tom Condon, and the Detroit Lions rage on into a third day – and the clock before draft time keeps ticking – the former Georgia quarterback said he wouldn’t know any of the details of the contract talks that could make him the first overall selection in the NFL draft if it weren’t for the near constant questions from media.

In fact, Stafford said at a charity event in Central Park this morning, he hadn’t even spoken to his agent all day. reported late Friday night that the two sides had agreed to a six-year, $41.7 million deal.

“I’m sure they’ve been going pretty hard, but to tell you the truth, I’m out of the loop on it,” Stafford said. “I try to stay away from it.”

When Stafford last spoke with Condon, things weren’t particularly clear, he said. He hung up the phone as confused as ever, and since then, he simply hasn’t worried about it.

The Lions have said they want a deal in place with whomever they plan to select first overall Saturday, and contract negotiations have been ongoing since Wednesday with Stafford. Detroit officials said that did not mean a deal would definitely get done, however.

The deal will be tricky, as Stafford has already learned. Matt Ryan, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, but first quarterback taken, landed a huge contract that guaranteed him $34.75 million over six years, with the total value of the deal reaching a staggering $72 million.

But other factors are in play with Stafford’s deal, too. The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement expires after next season, throwing team’s future salary cap calculations into flux. More over, the league has said it would like to reduce salaries for rookies, and commissioner Roger Goodell even discussed the possibility of a future rookie salary cap with Stafford on Friday. The various economic problems facing the rest of the country – the city of Detroit in particular – add further chaos to an already confusing negotiation.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it, and I don’t understand a word of it,” Stafford said. “I’m not a lawyer. I just let my agent go to it, and hopefully he can get it done. He knows what he’s doing, and I trust him with everything.”

The bottom line, Stafford said, is that by late afternoon Saturday, he’ll have realized a dream – regardless of what city he finally calls home.

“I’m going to be playing NFL football wherever I end up,” he said. “If it’s with the Lions, that’s great. If it’s somewhere else, I’m going to make the best of that situation.”

Of course, being that No. 1 overall pick is pretty tempting, and it’s a deal Stafford said he definitely wants to get done. Still, life as a professional football player has already begun he said, and the business of discussing the dollars and cents of his first contract has been a learning experience.

“I’d love to be the first pick, obviously, I think everybody in the draft would,” Stafford said. “But if it doesn’t happen, I really don’t mind where I go. It’s going to be a great day whatever happens.”

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