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04-25-09, 12:52 PM #1
Matthew Stafford will be the No. 1 overall pick in today's NFL draft. Detroit Lions to pay him $78 million.
Allen Park -- The Lions still were on the clock Friday night. But you can end the suspense: Matthew Stafford will be the No. 1 overall pick in today's NFL draft.
Stafford's agent, Tom Condon, and Lions officials agreed to terms on a contract Friday, two league sources said. The six-year deal could be worth up to $78 million, with 41.7 million in guaranteed money, for the former Georgia quarterback.
Neither Condon nor Lions president Tom Lewand, the team's chief negotiator, responded to phone calls Friday.
But the Lions had insisted for several weeks that they intended to have their choice for the No. 1 pick signed to a contract prior to drafting him.
Three months ago, even before he'd accepted the job as the team's new head coach, Jim Schwartz joked, "It's probably time to find a replacement for Bobby Layne."
Only time will tell if Stafford's the right man for that job, snapping a string of disappointments in a decades-long search for a franchise quarterback in Detroit. The last Lions quarterback to make a Pro Bowl was Greg Landry in 1971, and the team has gone bust with the three first-round quarterback selections since: Chuck Long, Andre Ware and Joey Harrington.
But Stafford's certainly got the pedigree. He was a high school star at Dallas' Highland Park High, the alma mater of Bobby Layne and Doak Walker, Hall of Famers from the Lions' championship era of the 1950s. Before he'd taken a snap in college, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicted he'd be a No. 1 overall pick someday.
And Friday in New York, the Lions' other finalist to be the No. 1 pick, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron, reiterated his belief that Stafford's name would be called first by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell today.
"It's a no-brainer," Curry said.
Stafford is aware he's not the first choice for a lot of Lions fans. There were chants of "We want Curry!" and "Don't draft Stafford!" at the team's new uniform unveiling Monday in Madison Heights. And coming off an 0-16 season, with a roster full of holes, many are questioning the choice of a player that's not even the consensus No. 1 at his position. On the eve of the draft, it was USC quarterback Mark Sanchez attracting most of the pre-draft buzz.
"Obviously, you want the fans to be on your side," Stafford told Yahoo! Sports. "I think you have to be yourself and play and get them on your side. ... I'm one of those guys that just wants to win, I don't care how. It doesn't have to be pretty."
Pretty soon, he'll get his shot.
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