Stafford still has two years left on his six-year, $72 million rookie contract, but his salary-cap hit is scheduled to be roughly $20 million this year and next. A new contract will free up cap space while ensuring that Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson remain together for at least the next half-decade.
Although Stafford is coming off a disappointing 2012 season, the Lions realize he's one of the best young arm talents in the NFL. He's averaged more than 5,000 yards while leading the NFL in attempts the past two seasons. Stafford is beginning to take on a leadership role, as well, entering his fifth season.
"There is not a guy that's done more for this franchise in this offseason than Matthew Stafford," Lions president Tom Lewand said last week. "The guy's been in the building every day. He's been living here the entire offseason. He's been working out, he's helped us recruit free agents, he's been involved on a daily basis in trying to get ready for the season, and he would do anything to help us be successful."