By Thursday morning, the Detroit Lions may no longer be able to deny reports that they have agreed to terms with quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Two sources close to the negotiations have told Yahoo! Sports that Stafford's agent, Tom Condon, was talking with Lions president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew on Wednesday night, hoping to finalize the deal that would make the Georgia signal caller the No. 1 pick in this weekend's NFL draft. Condon is likely to expect $40 million guaranteed as part of a six-year deal for Stafford.
Meanwhile, MLive.com has reported that Detroit has a tentative contract worked out with former Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry in case a deal with Stafford falls through.
These two developments came hours after the Lions issued a statement denying that a deal had already been struck with Stafford.
NFLDraftBible.com reported early Wednesday that the Lions had reached terms on an $80-million pact with Stafford after the front office got owner William Clay Ford to sign off on the deal. The Oakland Press has also reported that the team was close to finalizing a deal with the quarterback.
Those reports are "absolutely untrue," Lions team spokesman Bill Keenist wrote in a statement.
However, Stafford has been the top choice for the Lions for roughly a week, according to the aforementioned sources. Coach Jim Schwartz has consistently wanted Stafford and eventually convinced Lewand and Mayhew that taking the quarterback was the proper approach.
Lewand and Mayhew have emphasized that they want a deal done with the No. 1 pick in advance of the draft's first round on Saturday afternoon.
But while Stafford appears to be the front-runner, Curry is making his interest in the franchise well known. During an interview on Wednesday with Sirius NFL Radio, Curry said he'd be happy to accept the same deal that 2008 No. 1 overall pick Jake Long got from the Miami Dolphins. Long received a five-year, $57.75 million contract last year that included $30 million in guaranteed money.
However, according to two additional sources with knowledge of contract negotiations, Curry's statements are a clear indication he knows Stafford is Detroit's top choice, and that Curry is trying to sell himself based on signability.
"Curry knows the Lions want Stafford and he's doing whatever he can," a source with the NFL Players Association said. "It's pretty obvious. If he felt that he was their top choice, his agents would never allow him to say something like that. No possible way."