Matthew Stafford just got richer, and the Lions just locked down their young star for a few more years, according to Pro Football Talk. The deal is worth $43 million, with $27.5 million coming up front in the signing bonus. The extension, plus the two years left on Stafford's previous contract, will keep him in Detroit through the 2017 season.
With their quarterback locked down, the Lions can return to building a roster around him, something they haven't been able to do. Stafford is a gutsy player, but he's not on par with the NFL's best, at least not yet, and he doesn't win games without a good supporting cast. Only a very select group of quarterbacks do win games with bad rosters, but the Lions are looking like a better team this time around.
The team addressed a huge hole at running back by adding Reggie Bush. Although Bush won't help much in the running game unless he's given a gaping alley to run through, he'll be great out of the backfield, and he's an additional weapon in the passing game.
Defensively, the Lions continue to be scary up front, but they have to get to the quarterback on defense. Their backend is still a suspect group, but getting consistent pressure on the quarterback can do wonders for the secondary.
With Stafford's extension, the Lions are essentially putting the weight of the franchise on his back. Yes, he has some help, but the Lions have to build talent around him. While the team isn't as devoid of such talent as it was back in the Matt Millen era, it still lacks core players to drive the franchise forward. With Stafford secured, that's the Lions' next challenge.