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Lions GM wants long-term contract for Stafford

Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said this week the Lions will dip into free-agency to improve a team that crumbled down the stretch in 2012.

Shopping around for players -- and trimming fat from the roster -- is a priority, but that won't pull the team away from attempting to lock down starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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"My thought on that is that we're going to try to extend him," Mayhew told the team's official site this week. "There hasn't been a whole lot of dialogue about it at this point, but I think that's coming."

It makes sense for the Lions because a long-term extension would bring immediate cap relief. DetroitLions.com reports Stafford will count more than $20 million against the cap next season, a figure that could be softened with a long-term deal spread over time. Of course, agreeing to terms with one of the league's better young quarterbacks is no simple task.

"It's never easy," Mayhew said. "You're talking about a quarterback that's your starter, that's a quality player, that's a talented guy and I think one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL. So it'll be a challenge. But most of them, for good players, they're a challenge. The easy (contracts), usually (those players) aren't that good."

Plenty was made of Stafford's scattershot mechanics this season, but it's hard to argue with his 10,000-plus yards and 61 touchdowns over the past two years. Those numbers should make this an interesting negotiation for Mayhew and Detroit's front office.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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