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NFL Team Report - Detroit Lions - INSIDE SLANT
The Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford have been negotiating a potential long-term contract extension since February, but team president Tom Lewand said the talks will be tabled soon if a deal isn't reached.
Stafford still has two years remaining on his six-year rookie contract.
"We've still got some discussion to have, but at some point in time we'll either get a deal done or we'll focus on football," Lewand told the Detroit Free Press at the Nate Burleson-Stephen Tulloch charity softball game. "It's a different dynamic when you have two years left on a contract versus one. Most of them get done with a year left. And we've worked through a lot of those issues and continue to do that, want to continue the dialogue. But at some point in time we'll either have a deal or we'll agree that the focus needs to be on what's going on on the field."
Stafford is due to count $20.8 million against the salary cap this year and $19.3 million in 2014. The Lions would like to work out a long-term deal to ease the salary-cap hit and avoid a potentially costly franchise tag in 2015 should Stafford reach free agency.
This offseason, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco signed a $120 million deal that included $51 million in guaranteed money, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo received $55 million guaranteed on a seven-year, $119 million deal and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed a $130 million deal that guarantees him at least $54 million.
"Again, I think it's atypical for us to enter into discussions with Matthew with two years left on his deal, and I'm very glad we have," Lewand told the Free Press. "I think it's been a very productive process that may result in an agreement, and I certainly think will result in an agreement at the right point in time, and that may be soon and it may be a little bit later, but the process itself has been very valuable.
"It's not something clubs around the league generally do as a matter of course because with two years left on a deal it is a little more difficult. It obviously does happen, Aaron Rodgers being an example, but it's more of the exception than the rule with two years left."
Lewand said the team has not begun contract talks with defensive end Ndamukong Suh, whose rookie deal also expires following the 2014 season. He agreed to a simple contract restructuring this offseason to help clear some cap space, but currently carries a cap number of $19.3 million for 2014.
It's been a topic of conversation since the middle of last season: who is going to step up and play the flanker position opposite Calvin Johnson in the Lions' offense?
Among the 13 receivers presently in camp, one has stood out - at least to Nate Burleson.
"Patrick Edwards is playing a helluva ball right now," Burleson said. "He was my dark horse last year until he tweaked his hamstring. He's not a dark horse now. He's just a guy who needs to prove he can stay healthy and consistent in his play and I guarantee he will be a big-time playmaker for us this year."
Edwards, 24, nearly made the squad as an undrafted rookie in training camp last season. The hamstring injury late in camp cost him a roster spot. He was signed to the practice squad, but ended up on the injured list with a quadriceps tear.
He has been productive throughout the OTAs this offseason and has been taking reps as a punt returner.
Burleson continued, "I don't want to draw any comparisons to him and Titus (Young, who started at the other outside receiver spot early last season), but they are similar in the fact that they both catch the ball very well and are very explosive. (Edwards) can catch the underneath ball and turn it up field for 50 yards or he can run past you and catch a nine-route over top of your head.
"That's the type of guy we need, a guy that can balance out this receiving core."
The concern about Edwards, though, is his size. At 5-9, 175, he's not the prototypical outside receiver. That's not an issue, Burleson said.
"It's a copy-cat league and what is trending as of late is these types of receivers - Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson, those types of guys," Burleson said. "Size is not so much an issue any more. Everybody would love to create a player like Calvin Johnson, but if you have a smaller guy who is just as explosive and can catch the ball, he can be just as damaging."
NFL Team Report - Detroit Lions - NOTES, QUOTES
--Bill Ford Jr., the Lions' vice chairman, rarely comments publicly about his football team, but after watching the team's workout on Tuesday, he was compelled to show support to both general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz.
"You have to go into every season expecting you have a chance to win, and we do," Ford said. "We'll let it all be decided on the field, but I very much like the talent and the coaching staff that we have."
Ford praised not only the signings of Reggie Bush and Glover Quin, but also the impact that new senior personnel executive Brian Xanders has had.
"I think Jim's got a really good staff that he's put together this year, and I think Jim would be the first to admit that there have been times where he's learned on the job," Ford said. "But I think he's a very good coach. I think Martin has done a terrific job of building a very professional front office, and I do like the direction."
However, Ford, would not comment on the future of Schwartz or the contract status of Mayhew.
--The Lions beefed up their special teams this week signing two veterans -- former Pro Bowler Montell Owens and return specialist Micheal Spurlock.
Both played in Jacksonville last year for new special teams coach John Bonamego. The Lions wanted Owens badly, signing him to a two-year deal worth $2.5 million plus a $250,000 signing bonus. Owens, 29, played seven seasons in Jacksonville and made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2011. Spurlock, 30, has returned two punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns, including one of each last season.
--The Lions had close to 100 percent attendance during the three weeks of OTAs. Safety Louis Delmas was the only player not around. His absence was prearranged so he can continue rehabilitating his knee at a facility in Miami.
Defensive Nick Fairley, however, was a no-show on Tuesday. "There is no such thing as an excused absence on a voluntary OTA," Schwartz said. "Nick's been working, but he was not here today. He chose not to be here."
Schwartz would not say whether Tuesday's absence was Fairley's first.
--The Lions signed veteran receiver Matt Willis on Tuesday. Willis, 29, was with the Denver Broncos from 2008 to 2012. He was with the Ravens from 2007 to 2008. He has 30 career receptions for 385 yards. They also added guard Jake Scott and center/guard Leroy Harris.
They released two players Tuesday: receiver Troy Burrell and tight end Nathan Overbay.
--Several players returned to the field for the first time, but were held out of team drills, including cornerback Darius Slay (knee), receiver Ryan Broyles (knee), running back Mikel Leshoure (hamstring) and defensive end Devin Taylor (hamstring).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Honestly, I don't think we're far at all. We have the guys here to be able to win a Super Bowl. Now obviously, with that said, there's a lot that has to go into this season, this team, this offseason before we can even think about that. Right now, we just got to think about doing the little things right and kind of coming together, building that chemistry that's going to help us down into the season." -- Running back Reggie Bush's optimistic assessment of the Lions.
NFL Team Report - Detroit Lions - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--P Nick Harris (not tendered as UFA).
--RB James Harrison (not tendered as UFA).
--TE Will Heller (not tendered as UFA).
--CB Pat Lee (not tendered as UFA).
--KR Stefan Logan (not tendered as UFA).
--RB Kevin Smith (not tendered as UFA).
--DT Corey Williams (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--DE Ziggy Ansah (1/5): $$18.6M/4 yrs, $11.9M SB.
--CB Darius Slay (2/36): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Larry Warford (3/65): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Devin Taylor (4/132): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--P Sam Martin (5/165): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Corey Fuller (6/171): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB Theo Riddick (6/199): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Michael Williams (7/211): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Brandon Hepburn (7/245): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB Joique Bell: ERFA; terms unknown.
--S Don Carey: Potential RFA; $630,000/1 yr.
--FB Shaun Chapas: ERFA; terms unknown.
--S Louis Delmas: UFA; $7.715M/2 yrs, $1M SB.
--WR Kris Durham: ERFA; terms unknown.
--OT Jason Fox: RFA tendered at 1.323M with fourth-round pick as compensation); terms unknown.
--G/C Dylan Gandy: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--T Corey Hilliard: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Chris Houston: UFA; $25M/5 yrs, $6.5M SB.
--OLB DeAndre Levy: Potential UFA; $9.75M/3 yrs, $3M SB.
--LS Don Muhlbach: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Ashlee Palmer: Potential UFA; $3.25M/2 yrs.
--WR Brian Robiskie: FA, had been released by Lions; terms unknown.
--S Ricardo Silva: ERFA; terms unknown.
--S Amari Spievey: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Willie Young: RFA tendered at $2.023M with second-round pick as compensation); $1.5M/1 yr, $300,000 SB.
--K David Akers: FA 49ers; $1.005M/1 yr, $65,000 SB/$100,000 guaranteed.
--RB Reggie Bush: UFA Dolphins; $16M/4 yrs, $4M SB.
--WR Dominique Curry: FA; terms unknown.
--G/C Leroy Harris: Not tendered as UFA by Titans; terms unknown.
--CB D.J. Johnson: FA Redskins; terms unknown.
--DE Jason Jones: UFA Seahawks; $9.5M/3 yrs, $2.5M SB.
--WR Taddeus Lewis (waivers Browns).
--WR Lance Long: FA; terms unknown.
--DT C.J. Mosley: FA Jaguars; $1.2M/2 yrs.
--RB Montell Owens: FA Jaguars; $2.5M/2 yrs, $250,000 SB.
--S Glover Quin: UFA Texans; $23.5M/5 yrs, $5.25M SB.
--G Jake Scott: Not tendered as UFA by Eagles; terms unknown.
--WR/KR Micheal Spurlock: Not tendered as UFA by Chargers; terms unknown.
--WR Devin Thomas: FA; terms unknown.
--WR Matt Willis: Not tendered as UFA by Broncos; terms unknown.
--DE Cliff Avril: UFA Seahawks; $13M/2 yrs, $11M guaranteed.
--T Jeff Backus (retired).
--T Gosder Cherilus: UFA Colts; $35M/5 yrs, $10M SB/$16.5M guaranteed.
--LB Justin Durant: UFA Cowboys; $2.365M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.
--CB Drayton Florence: UFA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Andre Fluellen: UFA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--PK Jason Hanson: UFA; retired.
--DT Sammie Lee Hill: UFA Titans; $11.4M/3 yrs, $4M guaranteed.
--DE Lawrence Jackson: UFA Vikings; terms unknown.
--CB Jacob Lacey: UFA Vikings; terms unknown.
--WR Kassim Osgood: Not tendered as UFA/49ers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Stephen Peterman (released).
--DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (released).
--WR Titus Young (released).