Detroit Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson told his family and a close circle of friends before last season that 2015 would be his final year in the NFL, and he delivered the same message to coach Jim Caldwell the day after the regular season ended, sources told ESPN.
Caldwell told Johnson not to rush his decision -- to take his time, sources told ESPN. Out of respect to Caldwell, Johnson agreed to do just that, according to sources.
The Lions have not given up hope that Johnson could change his mind, but one person who knows Johnson well said, "He's pretty content with his decision."
Johnson's production has dropped a bit over the last couple of seasons as he has struggled to stay healthy. If Johnson stays retired, it's a big blow to Matthew Stafford's 2016 outlook.
His fingers are gnarled. He spends as much time in the training room as anyone on the team. And a lingering ankle injury forced him to miss large amounts of practice time this year, for the second straight season.
All that wear and tear has caused Johnson to contemplate his future. He has mentioned the subject of retirement to at least one former teammate.
And today, Johnson released a joint statement with the Lions, saying he is evaluating his future and should have an answer soon.
“Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future," Johnson said in the statement. I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future.”
The Lions said in the statement: "We obviously have profound respect for Calvin and certainly understand and appreciate his decision to give proper thought and consideration to his football future."
Johnson had four Top 3 finishes in the six years from 2008 to 2013. He finished 15th in 2014 and 9th last season, though he was 16th on a per game basis. If he retires, it's obviously a big blow to Matthew Stafford, whose splits with Johnson in the lineup are significantly higher than when Johnson is sidelined.
Friday, January 1, 2016, 6:26pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, questionable) missed practice Friday after taking limited reps Thursday and is questionable for Week 17. Johnson said that he will play against the Bears on Sunday and has played through the ankle injury (and a questionable tag) in each of the last five weeks. In his last four games against Chicago, he has averaged 7.3 receptions for 125 yards and 1.3 TD.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 6:13pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Johnson said that he will play against the Bears on Sunday. In his last four games against Chicago, he has averaged 7.3 receptions for 125 yards and 1.3 TD.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson is making $6 million more than any other receiver in the game this year. He'll draw a stunning cap hit of $24 million next year. Which means even if he's still a weapon, he's overpaid -- and given his production this year, severely so.
So with a new general manager stepping in, there's no telling what will happen. That's where the uncertainty lies over Johnson, even if he's still a talented guy.
The story went on to say that Johnson said he wants to play out his career in Detroit, even if that means toiling through another rebuild. The story also said the money is hard to get around, hence the uncertainty. But owner Martha Firestone Ford has no interest in a rebuild. She believes Detroit is talented enough to win now, and that will be the charge of the new GM, and the new coach if there is one.
Friday, December 25, 2015, 10:17pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 16. Johnson is a risky play given his recent production and decoy status. It’s difficult to bench such a great talent, but he’s clearly not 100% healthy and it’s showing on the field.
Thursday, December 24, 2015, 6:12pm
Wednesday, December 23, 2015, 6:11pm
Detroit Lions Status Report
WR Lance Moore (ankle)
Saturday, December 19, 2015, 2:10pm
The Detroit Lions' depth at tight end has taken another hit. Whether that affects Monday's game in New Orleans remains to be seen.
Detroit will issue its game designations later Saturday.
Receiver Calvin Johnson also missed practice Saturday, his second absence of the week, but is still expected to play against New Orleans. He's taken days off throughout the season while dealing with a sore ankle, but continues to play through it.
Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:32pm
Thursday, December 17, 2015, 6:06pm
Friday, December 11, 2015, 6:22pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle, questionable) missed practice Friday after taking limited reps Thursday and is questionable for Week 14. Johnson figures to continue to play through the ankle injury. The Detroit Free Press says that Johnson “should be fine” to face the Rams.
Thursday, December 10, 2015, 6:31pm
Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 6:33pm
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Johnson has been playing through this ankle injury for a while now. He’s a good start against a Rams defense that has not played well of late.
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