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Lions GM: Stafford extension talks in 'early stages'

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No one in Detroit's front office sounds worried about if the Lions will work out a contract extension with Matthew Stafford. The question is when a mega-deal will get done.

Speaking to season-ticket holders during the team's new jersey unveiling, general manager Bob Quinn sounded optimistic about the process, though it could take a few more months, at least, before the franchise quarterback puts pen to paper.

"It's not done yet," Quinn said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "We're in the very early stages of talking to Matthew and his representatives. Matthew's a quarterback that I want here and he's a quarterback that coach (Jim) Caldwell wants here, so we're in the early stages. It takes two sides to do a deal and we're working towards that."

Stafford enters the final year of a five-year, $76.5 million contract signed in 2013. He's set to make $16.5 million in 2017, with a $22.5 million salary-cap hit. The eight-year pro's current average salary -- over the life of the contract -- currently sits 17th in the NFL, per OverTheCap.com, behind the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler.

A new contract for Stafford is likely to start at $25 million per year, which would make him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL -- at least until re-ups for Aaron Rodgers and others begin. While that might sound like a hefty price for a quarterback without a playoff win on his resume, it's what the market dictates the Lions must pay to keep the man who holds almost all the team's passing records.

The Lions want to avoid the yearly franchise tag situation in which the Washington Redskins are currently embroiled with Kirk Cousins.

To hear Quinn discuss the situation, there doesn't seem to be animosity between the sides. And there is no question the Lions want to retain Stafford for the long haul.

"It's interesting when we're sitting down in draft meetings the last couple weeks and we go through every position no matter if we need one or not," Quinn said. "And you look across the country and there's really a lack of quarterbacks when you look at across the NFL and college football. So I think we're (in a) fortunate situation to have Matthew as a member of our team and we're hoping to make that a long-term thing."

When Quinn looks at the division rival Chicago Bears shelling out $45 million ($19 million guaranteed for one year) for the likes of Mike Glennon, he should smile and be happy to pay Stafford to wear Honolulu Blue and Silver the rest of his career.

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