The Lions will do everything in their power to convince Johnson to continue playing, NFL.com reports. In the wake of Sunday's news that Johnson intends to retire, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network relayed Monday that the wideout has personally called owner Martha Ford in order "to thank them for everything." While the Lions have noted "profound respect" for Johnson and will give him time to make a decision, Rapoport released another bombshell Monday, stating Johnson wouldn't return on his 2016 salary of $15.95 million, but rather would be offered a two-year contract with reduced cap figures similar to the one signed by Larry Fitzgerald last offseason. However, because Johnson has dealt with serious ankle injuries and general body soreness the last few seasons, the Lions' potential offer of a multi-year deal likely isn't an appealing one.
Johnson intends to retire from the NFL, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Johnson shared his thought process with head coach Jim Caldwell, who urged the wideout to take his time with the decision. After tending to ankle issues throughout his career -- but more specifically over the past two campaigns -- Johnson has also dealt with increased general soreness in his body. In a statement made through the Lions' organization on Jan. 6, he stated that the call would be confirmed, one way or another, in the "not-too-distant future," but he required less than a month to uphold his desire. Once he files the proper paperwork, he'll conclude his career with 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in 135 games, including the second-most receiving yards per game (86.1) of any player in NFL history.
Johnson's agent Bus Cook told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that the wide receiver doesn't have a timetable regarding his decision to play next season. In a statement three weeks ago, Johnson relayed that a decision would be made in the "not-so-distant future." Because Cook clients have dabbled in the will-he-or-won't-he act in the past -- see, Brett Favre -- Johnson could very well take his time. Fortunately for the Lions' new general manager Bob Quinn, the final call won't come out of the blue, meaning all contingency plans should be in place. In the event Johnson isn't donning Honolulu blue and silver in the fall, Golden Tate would become the nominal No. 1 wideout in Detroit.
Johnson reeled in 88 of 150 targets for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns during the 2015 season. Johnson battled back for a solid rebound from 2014's injury hampered season, leaning heavily on a final six games of the season during which he scored six touchdowns. Still, Johnson was never quite his dominant self, topping 100 yards just twice, and he had a three-game stretch from Weeks 13 through 15 during which he caught only five passes. The big story around Johnson at the moment is whether he will choose to retire. Even if he chooses not to, it would be a shock if he remains in Detroit on his current salary - creating a lot of uncertainty ahead of 2016.
Johnson released a statement Wednesday in which he said, "Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future. I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future." Once rumors began to swirl, flashes to Barry Sanders in 1999 immediately entered the mind, though the preeminent Lions legend made his decision on the eve of training camp. If Johnson makes the call to step away in the near future, the Lions' new management structure will have the entire offseason to plan for the future, with free agency and the draft available to begin that process. While the passing attack as a whole would suffer, Golden Tate would become the unquestioned No. 1 option for Matthew Stafford in the absence of Johnson.
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