Jan 1, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford have been working toward a contract extension for the 28-year-old gun slinger, but nothing has happened yet. In fact, while it was reported they were close to a deal a week ago, now according to Tom Pelissero there is a “substantial gap” between the two parties.

The former first-round pick has been nothing but spectacular, though the team hasn’t won much, in his initial season in the league. Since being drafted in 2009, Stafford has been the Lions best quarterback ever. He is the career leader in touchdowns, completions, attempts, and yardage. Plain and simple, it’s time for the Lions to pay up.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Ford Field. (Photo: Andrew Weber, USA TODAY Sports)

Stafford took a discount on the last deal that he signed, 3-years $53 million ($41.5 million guaranteed), back in 2015. Quite frankly, the Lions got off cheap. Stafford is making roughly $17.6 million per year, which places him behind guys like Brock Osweiler, Ryan Tannehill, and Kirk Cousins.

Stafford has shown no desire to leave the city of Detroit, a place that he has grown accustomed to and wants to stay in, according to him. And, not to mention he’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career, a season in which he led the Lions back to the playoffs. Adding these two things together, along with the fact that he’s one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league (you can’t argue the numbers, nor the people the team chooses to put around him), the Lions need to get this thing done.

If they enter the season without a deal, it is highly unlikely that something will get done during the season. After 2017-18 the Lions could choose to franchise tag the then 29-year old QB, but the price tag will most likely be higher than what it currently could be. With Derek Carr, a good but relatively unproven quarterback getting $25.2 million per year, there’s no reason why the best quarterback in Lions franchise history cannot make more.