Former Lions receiver Calvin Johnson has hinted that Detroit’s long string of failure played a role in his retirement, and he reiterated that sentiment last week, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I was stuck in my contract with Detroit, and they told me, they would not release my contract, so I would have to come back to them,” Johnson said. “I didn’t see the chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall … and not going anywhere.”
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details, the Lions and new general manager Bob Quinn may have misled Johnson into thinking he’d be forced to stick with Detroit in 2016. While Johnson says the Lions wouldn’t have released him from his contract, Detroit almost surely would have had to make some sort of adjustment to Johnson’s cap charge, which would have totaled $24MM. By convincing him to retire, the Lions saved more than $11MM on its 2016 salary cap.
Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:
- Hue Jackson is expected to receive a long leash as head coach of the Browns, and likely won’t be fired even if the club struggles again in 2017, writes Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. As I wrote in today’s review of the Browns’ offseason, Cleveland is in the midst of a full-scale rebuild, and the team’s ownership and front office is aware that Jackson isn’t leading a top-notch roster. As Cabot notes, the Browns will likely be starting rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer for the majority of the season, so growing pains are to be expected. While improvement over last year’s 1-15 mark is to be expected, Jackson won’t be blamed if Cleveland doesn’t come near playoff contention.
- Before opting to sign with the Ravens this spring, safety Tony Jefferson used a creative method to determine if he’d fit with Baltimore’s roster. “I had to personally go on NFL Game Pass and watch tape and film before I made a decision,” said Jefferson, per Max Mayer of NFL.com. “I felt like this defense fits me. I feel like this style fits me. I love to hit, and do that type of stuff. And I think that’s the culture, and that’s what I want to be a part of.” Jefferson left Arizona to ink a four-year, $34MM deal with the Ravens, where he’ll team with fellow defensive back Eric Weddle.
- In case you missed it, PFR’s Zach Links examined the possibility of a deal between the Steelers and franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell. If the two side don’t reach an extension by July 17, Bell will play out the season on a fully guaranteed one-year pact worth $12MM+.