ALLEN PARK - The Detroit Lions and Matt Millen have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension which would put Millen at the helm of the franchise until 2010. The extension, which had been in the works for the last few weeks, brings stability to the front office for Detroit, something that has been a hallmark of the franchise.
Lions owner William Clay Ford, Sr. appeared at the team's morning practice session to announce the move which had been agreed to a few days earlier but was not immediately announced.
While the Lions have not had the hoped success on the football field under Millen's tenure in the dual role as President and GM of the franchise, they appear set for a big move up in the NFC North after stockpiling talent over the last three seasons.
"There's a lot of new faces since Matt has arrived in the building," said Lions head coach Steve Mariucci. "Matt's trying to put the right people in place -- from the tight ends to the scouts to everyone in every area. So the continuity thing is great for any organization. We're on the right track, we're looking forward to this season and we're looking forward to the salvation of this young football team."
The former Penn State and Oakland Raiders standout really found his niche when he took over responsibilities for running the NFL draft from the departed Bill Tobin. Millen selected Charles Rogers, Dominic Raiola, Roy Williams, Boss Bailey, Mike Williams, Teddy Lehman, James Davis, Alex Lewis, Chris Cash, Andre' Goodman and Shaun Rogers, players who form the nucleus of the current Lions roster.
"I think he's done a very good job,'' Lions vice-chairman William Clay Ford, Jr. said of Millen. "He's the first to admit there was a very steep learning curve early, but if you believe, like I do, that this is a roster full of talent, then that's the guy who did it. From this point forward, I like our chances and I like our team and I attribute that to Matt.''
After a rocky start dealing with free agency earlier in his tenure, Millen began to pull it together last year, nabbing free agent guard Damien Woody and corner Fernando Bryant to join previous acquisition cornerback Dre' Bly and this year's group including safety Kenoy Kennedy, wide receiver Kevin Johnson and tight end Marcus Pollard.
"I think Matt was expected, when he was hired, to get into a 'controlled burn'," said Mariucci, making an analogy to firefighters who intentionally set small blazes in order to extinguish a raging forest fire.
"[He needed to] make sure that the people that he wanted in place became in place. That doesn't happen overnight. That happens over the course of time, several years maybe -- the same with putting a team together. He's certainly well on his way to doing that."
The Lions are hoping that over the next five years Millen is the man to pilot the franchise to a destination they've never seen - a Super Bowl appearance.
Lions, Millen Agree To Five-Year Extension
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