Megatron. That sums up the new contract that Detroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson Jr extended to yesterday. Last season’s breadwinners were Michael Vick (6 years / $100 million) and Larry Fitzgerald (8 years / $120 million). The Cardinals receiver was the highest paid receiver of all time.
Johnson has signed an eight-year deal worth up to $132 million, making him the now-highest-paid receiver in the NFL. He had a year remaining on a deal he signed after being drafted in 2007, but this extension starts immediately and runs through the 2019 season. “I’m so comfortable here now,” the 26-year-old Johnson said at news conference Wednesday. “At first, not at all, but being here for five years, being around these people here in Detroit, teammates and just the city, I’m just growing accustomed to it.” Johnson’s agent, Bus Cook, said the contract is worth $60 million guaranteed.
“Calvin’s one of those guys — we’ve said this about a few guys that we have in our building — whatever they pay him is not enough,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s truly a special player.” After years of questionable drafts, the Lions finally began building a talented nucleus when they took Johnson with the No. 2 overall pick in 2007. Detroit went 0-16 in his second season but added quarterback Matthew Stafford with the top pick in 2009. The Lions then took defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the second pick the following year.
Detroit made the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years. The challenge now is keeping these stars long term, and the Lions took care of Johnson with minimal angst. “They were happy to get this thing done with, and I was happy as well,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t a lot of confrontation. We weren’t butting heads or anything. It was just something that we knew needed to get done.” The 6-foot-5 Johnson is a two-time Pro Bowler and his 45 touchdowns receiving are the most in the NFL since 2008. Johnson is coming off a spectacular season in which he caught 96 passes for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. He became the third player in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season, joining Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. He’s also one of six receivers to post at least 45 TD catches and 5,000 yards receiving in a four-season span, along with Rice, Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Lance Alworth.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who signed a 7-year deal worth up to $100 million at the start of last season, tweeted: “Calvin Johnson! Brother you’re Worth every cent!!! But hey,Can I borrow a Dollar! Hahaha Now that’s how its done! Congratulation!”