Lions in early contract extension talks with Matthew Stafford

Stafford enjoyed a tremendous 2016 season before a late-season injury affected his throwing.

Detroit could use a franchise tag on quarterback Matthew Stafford next offseason to prevent him from leaving via free agency.

Lions general manager Bob Quinn, however, is optimistic it won’t come to that.

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Quinn said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Detroit has started contract negotiations with Stafford’s agents.

“We’re in the early stages,” Quinn said Wednesday. “It’s really too early to kind of give any update but we’re going through the process. These things don’t happen overnight.

“I feel confident we can get something done.”

Stafford is set to earn a base salary of $16.5 million in 2017, the final season of a five-year, $76.5 million contract he signed in 2013.

Stafford was enjoying an outstanding 2016 campaign before his play was affected by a late-season finger injury on his throwing hand. Stafford still helped guide Detroit (9-7) to a wild-card appearance, finishing the year with 4,327 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Stafford, the first player selected in the 2009 draft before a rookie salary cap was installed, has earned $110.8 million during his career.

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