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Detroit Lions start biggest rebuild since recovery from 0-16 in 2008

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford passes against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in Detroit. (AP photo)

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

DETROIT — The previous time the Detroit Lions went into an offseason with a rebuilding project this large, they were coming off a winless season and drafted quarterback Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick in 2009.

Detroit’s new general manager and coach will have to decide if Stafford is part of their plans to retool a franchise in desperate need of major changes after losing 33 games in three seasons.

Stafford has two years left on his $135 million, five-year deal, but the new leaders of the Lions may opt to reshape the roster by trading him to acquire more draft picks.

And Stafford may simply say he’s ready to move on.

“There’s a lot to discuss,” he acknowledged after the season ended with a 37-35 loss to Minnesota.

Stafford surpassed the 45,000-yard mark for passing Sunday in his 165th game, the fewest games an NFL player has had to reach that number.

Like many of Stafford’s statistics, they were marred by a loss as the team dropped to 5-11 this season and he fell to 74-89-1 in the regular season as a starter.

Detroit drafted the strong-armed Stafford with the hopes he could help the franchise have playoff success.

Offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who signed a six-year, $85 million deal just before last season started, said Monday he planned to lobby Lions President Rod Wood to keep Stafford as a teammate.

LEADERS OF LIONS

The franchise’s top priorities this offseason are to hire a general manager and coach to replace Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia after both were fired five-plus weeks ago.

San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is interviewing with the Lions later this week and he is also talking with Atlanta and Jacksonville about their head coaching job, according to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy plans to interview with the Lions among other teams, a person familiar with his plans told the AP on condition of anonymity because he has not made his plans public.