With three top-two picks from the pre-rookie wage scale era on their roster, the Lions have extended one, receiver Calvin Johnson. Next up, seemingly, is quarterback Matthew Stafford, the first overall pick in the 2009 draft.
But with Stafford having a cap number in excess of $20 million for 2013, the Lions don’t feel compelled to do a new deal that would reduce that burden.
Or at least that’s what they say.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press recently asked Lions CEO Tom Lewand whether it’s a necessity to extend Stafford’s contract and, in turn, reduce his massive cap number.
“No,” Lewand said. “We have a lot of work to do in terms of our planning for 2013 and beyond. And we’ve done a lot of that work. It’s an ongoing process, but I wouldn’t say anything is a must-do, one way or another.”
But as Birkett points out nine of the team’s 22 starters are heading to free agency, along with all specialists and several key backups.
With the salary cap number expected to go up much if at all beyond its current level of $120.6 million, having one sixth of the total devoted to one player makes it harder to re-sign free agents and otherwise field a competitive team.
And so Stafford soon will confront the same question that has arisen for other elite quarterbacks. How much is enough, when there has to be enough for the rest of the roster?