Stafford more interested in wins than money

Stafford more interested in wins than money

Published Apr. 16, 2013 12:05 p.m. ET

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Human nature these days is to try to make as much money as possible.

But there’s a problem with that approach in the NFL’s salary-cap era. If you want to win championships, you need talent around you. You can’t be too selfish and make so much that there’s not enough to go around.

That’s the issue quarterback Matthew Stafford faces during negotiations for a contract extension with the Detroit Lions.

“I want talent around me, frankly,” Stafford said Tuesday following one of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts. “There’s opportunities everywhere in the league, you see guys breaking records with how much they’re making.

“You want fair market value. I don’t really care about breaking (contract) records too much. I want to break records on the field. I want to win games. I want to have as many good players around me as I possibly can.

“I’m a football-first guy and the rest (financial rewards) happens because that’s the way it goes in this league. It’s a business and I understand that. I’m not too worried about that. I just want as many good players around me and help out any way I can.”

Stafford, 25, benefited greatly by entering the league during the second-to-last year before a rookie wage scale was implemented.

He has two seasons remaining on his original contract with cap hits of $20.8 million for 2013 and $19.3 million for 2014.

The salary cap for each team this coming season will be around $123 million.

The Lions not only want to extend Stafford’s contract to lock him in for the long term, but they need to make some adjustments to lower his cap hits in the process.

Stafford indicated his desire is to sign a long-term deal sometime soon.

“I would love to,” he said. “I love being here. I love this team, would love to bring a winner here. That’s my No. 1 focus this whole off-season was trying to do everything I could to help us win.

“The contract stuff will take care of itself. I’m really not too involved with it. I’m not on the phone calls, but I’m sure there’s some sort of talks going on.”

Asked about trying to prevent the negotiations from becoming a distraction to the team if there’s no agreement reached before the season, Stafford said, “That’s a good question. I don’t expect it to be a distraction. I personally don’t want it to be. I like to focus on one thing and go after it. Right now that’s football for me.

“That’s why I’m letting the agents talk to the front office here and figure that stuff out. I would imagine there would become a point where we’re either getting it done or not. I would assume that they want to do something. I want to do something. We’ll figure something out hopefully. If not then we’ll move on and table it for a year.”

Stafford, stealing the company line set by general manager Martin Mayhew, on whether he’d like to see the Lions draft a left tackle to protect his blindside: “I’d like to see us take the best player available.”

… On looking forward to a new season after ending 2012 on an eight-game losing streak: “Coming off a 4-12 season, you want to prove everybody wrong. That’s where my head’s at right now.”