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Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions begin extension talks

The New England Patriots pulled off a nice little feat this week, freeing up room under their salary cap while locking up franchise quarterback Tom Brady for the rest of his prime.

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The Detroit Lions are planning a similar move.

NFL.com's Albert Breer reported Wednesday night, via a team source, that the Lions have begun talks with quarterback Matthew Stafford on a contract extension. The talks are in the preliminary stage with nothing pressing at this point.

This has been expected. Lions president Tom Lewand said earlier this month the team wanted a new deal with the 25-year-old Stafford, who has thrown for more than 10,000 yards over the past two seasons.

"Matthew Stafford is our quarterback, and we hope is our quarterback for a long time," Lewand said, via MLive.com. "The reason to explore a contract extension with Matthew is to fulfill that goal of having him be our quarterback for a long time. It's not a short-term look at the salary cap.

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"That's the wrong way to look at that. When you look at extending somebody like Matthew, he's not going to take less money to extend. That's a very short-term focus to look at."

Stafford is set to earn a base salary of $12 million in 2013, though his cap hit stands at $20.3 million. That figure is the third-highest in the NFL, behind Eli Manning of the New York Giants and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.

So Lewand can say a new deal isn't about the salary cap. But it's certainly part of the equation.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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