While a hard deadline has not been set by the team, the Lions are hoping to learn before Wednesday whether or not wide receiver Calvin Johnson will be with the team in 2016. With free agency starting Wednesday at 4 p.m. and the team still unsure of Johnson’s future, questions have been floating around Detroit since Johnson announced that he was considering retirement.
Johnson’s camp has been virtually silent since making the announcement on January 6th. While he is still only 30 years old, he has seen his production slip over the last couple years due to health.
“That’s just the decision that we made internally to not put a deadline on Calvin,” general manager Bob Quinn told the Detroit Free Press when asked why there was no deadline for a decision. “That’s something that we’ve talked about, myself, Coach (Jim) Caldwell, Rod Wood. That’s just the way we’re going to go about business in terms of what Calvin’s decision may or may not be.”
Experience will be hard to come by in the Lions receiving core if Johnson does indeed retire. Golden Tate is the only other receiver currently on the roster with at least 20 catches in his career. Other receivers such as Corey Fuller and T.J Jones are still considered “up-and-comers”, and haven’t produced a whole lot yet.
As it stands right now, the team has approximately $30 million in salary cap space. If Johnson retires, that number would jump by another $11.1 million.
Some notions that Johnson is dragging the process out in order to be released were vehemently shot down by Johnson’s camp.
There is no word as to what the plan of action would be if Johnson has not made a decision before free agency begins. No matter what the decision is, the team will likely be closely evaluating the crop of wide receivers, linebackers, and offensive/defensive line, both in free agency and the draft.