Well, the percentages are down to 50/50. As widely reported today, including by Killer on Mlive, the Detroit Lions have agreed to terms with Aaron Curry to be the #1 pick in the draft.
Don't get too excited there folks -- there is one catch keeping me from cracking open a cold one and toasting to Mayhew...
They have also offered a contract to Matt Stafford. If he takes it by Friday, he is the pick. If he doesn't, Aaron Curry is a Lion.
Isphet had some great thoughts on this, so I am posting his comment from the last article here:
"This is a brilliant move on the Lion's part. They can get Curry for a reasonable number 1 pick salary; or they float a number out to Stafford that's maybe slightly more and say: "choose before Friday to play for us for that money."
What's great about it is this: They can get Stafford for a reasonable price, OR Stafford can basically say "No." and the Lions take Curry for a reasonable price.
This gives Stafford an out if he doesn't really want to be in Detroit without making him look like a whiny Eli Manning when he got drafted by the chargers. This ALSO gives Detroit an out with the media if they end up taking Curry. "We WANTED Stafford, but he wanted too much money, or he decided he didn't want to play for us, so what was the point of drafting him?"
My guess is that Stafford passes on the contract and the Lions draft Curry. 60%/40% Curry/Stafford at this point.
They've basically given Stafford a free pass to say "I don't really want to play for the Lions." It's gut-check time for Stafford to see if he REALLY wants to be in Detroit. The question is: Does he take it? If so, we know he's taking not a HUGE contract and not just doing it for the money, so he's going a long way towards proving himself to Lions fans if he takes that contract and is drafted by the Lions.
I know I'll be a lot happier with Stafford knowing he's not just in Detroit for the money, but because he WANTS to be.
Kudos to Mayhew for putting everyone in a position to win and get what they want; now to see how it all works out in the end. ~~ Isphet"
I hope Mayhew stands firm on whatever it is he offered to Stafford. I disagree totally with one line from Killer's piece that I have seen repeated elsewhere:
"The price of the contract can only go up in the final hours so Condon likely will push the issue as far as he feels he has something to gain."
Why would it go up? Stand firm Mayhew! You've said what you are willing to pay, you have Curry ready to go! Why would they suddenly give more on Friday?
The LIONS and Martin Mayhew set the deadline -- not Tom Condon. That means the closer it gets to Friday, the less bargaining power Condon has. Mayhew has painted a bright honolulu-blue line in the sand and said "You with us or not? Because we're happy over here with Aaron Curry if you want to stay over there."
Making it public and stating it the way he has leads me to believe pretty strongly that Mayhew has had enough BS and the negotiating is pretty much over. A contract with Stafford will be done on the Lions' terms or not at all. Along with Curry accepting same/less than Long as per his own statements, a clear message is being sent to the Agents that they, Condon especially, are not going to like: You don't run the draft, you don't make us pay what you want for who we want -- if your player wants to be here we will give him a fair deal, and if he only wants the big payday -- go home.
This is the same message Mayhew has been giving free agents all ifseason long -- should we really be surprised he is doing so when negotiating with the #1 overall pick as well? He is still being consistent with his actions on how he is going to go about building this team.
Curry deal is at it's highest the same as Jake Long's last year. Possibly lower. Condon DID NOT count on Curry agreeing to terms like that (after all, who takes less than last year's #1 pick irregardless of position -- that's crazy!) He's been floating that $40 million guaranteed number out there for weeks now... if he takes less, he looks weak. If he gives in to the Lions' demands for a lower contract, he looks weak. It's going to be a bad couple of days for Condon -- because something tells me Mayhew is going to win this game of chicken on his terms.
The Lions truly hold all the cards -- they own the pick. Tom Condon knows every ounce of leverage he may have had went out the window when the Lions announced Curry agreeing to terms. Plus, he still has no idea if he is negotiating with the Lions...or a team they may be trading down with -- which is another consideration for why they haven't signed Curry yet at this point.
Lets say the Lions have a possible partner -- but the trade doesn't happen. So they say Stafford didn't take their offer, and go with Curry. Even if Condon tries to say "But Detroit wouldn't negotiate...or...We took their offer! Really!" it will come across as nothing but damage control by Condon for screwing up -- whether it is true or not.
I agree with Isphet that Mayhew has put Detroit in an excellent position. How he as played the Ifseason and his draft gambits at this point has led me to have enough confidence in him to give him a shot. IF Stafford agrees to terms and they take him -- I will trust he was indeed their #1 choice for a reason, and give him a shot and support.
Trusting the front office of the Lions to evaluate talent will be hard to get used to...hope that trust is not, once again, misplaced...