Lions could use franchise tag to keep Matthew Stafford from hitting free agency next year

By Jesse Reed

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn was on SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday and made it clear he has no intentions of letting Matthew Stafford hit the open market.

As noted by Alex Marvez of Sporting News, Quinn would be willing to use the franchise tag to secure Stafford, though the ultimate goal is a long-term deal. Toward that end, the Lions and Stafford’s representation have begun initial talks about a long-term contract.

Stafford was having one of his finest seasons as a professional last year before a very painful hand injury derailed the final quarter of his campaign. He finished with 4,327 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, leading the Lions to a wild-card game where they ultimately were dispatched by the Seattle Seahawks.

He’s entering the final year of the five-year extension¬†he signed in 2013 and is set to pull in $16.5 million in 2017 — a veritable bargain-bin rate for a franchise passer these days.

If the Lions do end up using the franchise tag to secure Stafford’s services in 2018, then he’d be pulling in well over $20 million for the one year, all of that fully guaranteed. However, it’s in his and the Lions’ best interest to get a long-term deal worked out in the meantime.