North Notes: Johnson, Lions, Browns, Ravens

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 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 “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+.
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15 comments on “North Notes: Johnson, Lions, Browns, Ravens

  1. Sportfeen69

    There’s no way I would have let him retired don’t know why the would the best receiver in the league to walk away and retire

    • tharrie0820

      They had no choice in that matter. It was his decision not theirs. And Stafford actually started playing better with him gone

  2. Danthemilwfan

    Calvin Johnson wanted to win but he signed a contract for the money? How about not resigning? How about holding out for a trade?

  3. PeterDipersio

    Calvin Johnson would be a nice fit in New England on the opposite side of Brandon Cooks! He wants to win a Super Bowl or at least be in one and the Pats can pretty much guarantee that!

  4. Tigers2384

    As a Lions fan, I guess I am confused as to why not to trade him at the least. Someone would have taken him, and then you get something back, even if it is one or two draft picks. With him walking away you get nothing except a disgruntled future hall of famer.

    I do question why he signed an extension with the team if Detroit “wasn’t for him”. I understand players need to maximize their value while they can, but it sounds like the money was the biggest motivator, not winning.

    Either way, I wish him well. He’s a great talent and an intelligent guy, so he will do amazing things no matter what he does.

    • PeterDipersio

      I agree why didn’t the Lions just trade him if he didn’t want to be there? The Lions could have still rid themselves of his salary with a trade as well and got something back for him too!

    • Hannibal8us

      The reason he resigned with them is it happened after they made the playoffs, he couldn’t have known they were going to miss the playoffs every year after that.

      • PeterDipersio

        Well it’s the NFL and no one is guaranteed a playoff spot every year of course unless you are the Patriots who are guaranteed a playoff spot every year and at least a AFC Championship birth as well

        • Hannibal8us

          Obviously I was just explaining why he resigned, he thought they had a bright future after making the playoffs. What he didn’t factor in was it’s the Lions and they’ll find a way to squander greatness.

  5. dugdog83

    There was never any talk of a trade. Of course the Lions would have traded him rather than lose him for nothing in return. Calvin would have gotten a trade if he really wanted one.

  6. DonKieballs

    I have no sympathy for athletes that sign massive dollar amount, long term contracts when they complain about not being able to leave.

    If he wanted to only be there a couple years then why sign the long term deal? It’s his own fault and poor judgement on his side.

    Granted, he had every right to retire but don’t complain because you signed a huge contract for money and now your mad your team isn’t playing well. It’s a cowards way out.

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