The Lions are doing the right thing.

Never thought that such a sentence existed in my repertoire, did you? Now that the smelling salts have revived you, let me finish my point.

The Lions are doing the right thing in contract negotiations with Matthew Stafford. Why rush it? If nothing’s completed soon, so what?

There’s nothing wrong with putting the young gun-slinging quarterback under the same intense microscope this season as the general manager and coach who designated Stafford as the first piece of the franchise revival with the first overall selection in the 2009 draft.

There’s really no hurry, if indeed Stafford’s the truth as the organization believes. Making such a pronounced long-range commitment to a quarterback has to stand for something more than merely freeing up salary-cap room. Actually, if the Lions entered this season with Stafford unsigned beyond 2014, it would be a rare display of guts from a team notorious for a squishy spine.

There’s no lack of faith in Stafford. This off-season, he has taken a significant step forward in assuming a stronger internal leadership role. He has become one of the “young elders” that older elder Nate Burleson spoke of Wednesday following the second day of mandatory minicamp.

If there’s a new sense of urgency in a team that must win now to keep the “furniture movers” from coming to Allen Park next year as Burleson added, it must start with obviously the most talented Lions quarterback in more than a half century.

Stafford must do more than simply throw big numbers. Another 5,000-yard passing season means nothing if it results in another playoff embarrassment. The Lions must take that next step forward, and so must Stafford.

It’s not insulting if there isn’t a new contract in place before the season starts. If anything, it’s an admission from the Lions that they happily would pay a little more if they’re absolutely certain Stafford is the quarterback who can take this franchise to postseason delights not experienced since the 1950s.

Make Stafford keep proving that he could become one of the game’s elites.