Lions in final negotiations with Stafford

The Lions are in negotiations to finalize a contract with Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, who would be the No. 1 overall draft pick Saturday.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said the team hoped to have a contract completed for the top selection — without naming him — during a pre-draft news conference Tuesday.

Lions officials have been negotiating with Tom Condon and Ben Dogra, who not only represent Stafford but also Baylor OT Jason Smith. Smith is believed to be an option for the Lions should a deal with Stafford not materialize. Detroit also is considering Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry, whom many consider the most complete player in the draft.

Curry told my colleague, Pat Kirwan, that he would accept a deal from the Lions for less money than what OT Jake Long signed for as the top pick of the Dolphins last year.

Should Stafford and the Lions agree to terms, the quarterback is expected to initially work behind veteran Daunte Culpepper, who impressed coaches at a recent minicamp. Stafford could receive the opportunity to compete for the starting job, which some NFL coaches and scouts said he could handle following private workouts and interviews.

The St. Louis Rams hold the No. 2 pick in the draft, and if Stafford’s deal is completed before the draft, the intrigue immediately would turn their way. It is believed that the Rams would select Smith or Virginia OT Eugene Monroe, but team officials said they like what they have seen from Alex Barron, whom they moved to left tackle from right tackle, and that they could take a linebacker (Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry) or QB Mark Sanchez with the pick.

Steve Wyche

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