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Matthew Stafford said he was relieved to sign his three-year contract extension Wednesday and now hopes to win a Super Bowl sometime in the near future with the Detroit Lions.
The quarterback said a ring is what separates him from the top quarterbacks in the NFC, such as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, who each received more lucrative extensions in the last two years.
"That's what those guys have. League MVP, Super Bowl rings, years of experience doing it, all of that. You know, I think that's what is a great opportunity for me the next four or five years to get to that level and hopefully stay with this organization for a long time," Stafford said Wednesday.
Stafford, who had two years and $23.5 million remaining on his previous deal, will be paid $53 million in new money, with $41.5 million guaranteed with his extension. Brees signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the New Orleans Saints last year, while the Green Bay Packers rewarded Rodgers with a five-year, $110 million extension earlier this offseason.
The 25-year-old quarterback signed a six-year contract worth up to $78 million, with $41.7 million in guarantees, when he was selected No. 1 overall in 2009.
Stafford officially signed his extension Wednesday and the team tweeted a picture of him signing his contract.
It's official! @Staff_9 @tomlewand #Lions pic.twitter.com/TLpdQA0px3— Detroit Lions (@DetroitLionsNFL) July 10, 2013
He said Wednesday it was a relief to get the extension done so it won't be a topic of conversation going forward and instead, the focus can be about the Lions.
"I want to be about the team. I want to help the team out if I can in cap space, whatever it is. I want good players around me as a quarterback. It doesn't hurt to have weapons and, you know, if I can help out anyway I can, I'm happy to do it," he said.
After playing in just 13 games over his first two injury-shortened seasons, he flourished in the 2011 season, his first full year, with 41 TD passes while completing 64 percent of his attempts and throwing 16 interceptions in leading Detroit to the playoffs.
The Lions didn't do much of that last year, losing their last eight games to flop to a 4-12 record after a 10-win season.
Stafford said he's eager for training camp to begin so he and the Lions can work to erase the memory of last year's disappointing results.
"You know, I feel great physically and mentally ready to go. I know all the guys are. You know, we're excited to get back out there as a team and kind of get the bad taste out of our mouth from last year and I'm going to be the one spearheading the charge and getting this going in the right direction," he said.
Lions president Tom Lewand credited Stafford for driving the talks between the sides.
"This process started back in February when he was in here by himself, nobody else in the building. He was here working out, he was here getting better, he was here looking to the future and looking to the season.
"Part of that process, and he referenced it, is becoming a leader in the locker room, a leader on the field, a leader off the field, and he has worked incredibly hard at all phases of that over the last few years, but particularly this offseason. He worked hard on the contract front and for him, it really was more about the process, more about being here, more about solidifying himself as the leader of this team and of that locker room than it was about every last zero or every last dollar and cent on the contract. Without his active involvement and his leadership, I don't think we're standing here talking about it today," he said.
News of Stafford's extension was warmly greeted by Stafford's teammates, including his favorite target, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who tweeted his thoughts Wednesday.
Shout out to my QB @Staff_9 on his contract extension. Now let's get after it in a couple weeks— Calvin Johnson Jr. (@Bigplaycj) July 10, 2013
ESPN NFL Insiders Ed Werder and Adam Schefter contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press also was used.