NFC North Notes: Lions, Megatron, Vikings

Calvin Johnson was famously required to pay back a seven-figure portion of his $16MM signing bonus after retiring from the NFL in 2016, and he says his strained relationship with the Lions won’t improve unless he’s returned that money. “They already know what they got to do,” Johnson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “The only way they’re going to get me back is they put that money back in my pocket. Nah, you don’t do that. I don’t care what they say. They can put it back, then they can have me back. That’s the bottom line.” As recently as 2017, NFL teams were reportedly interested in luring Megatron out of retirement, but he’s said he has no interest in returning to the league.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • While Johnson may not be mending fences with the Lions any time soon, the show must go on in Detroit, and Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com has passed along a few interesting nuggets from the second week of organized team activities. While it’s certainly early, Tom Savage reportedly looks like the favorite for the Lions’ backup quarterback job, per Twentyman. Savage has been taking most of the club’s second-team snaps, and he boasts far more experience than his competition (Connor Cook). Meanwhile, second-round linebacker Jahlani Tavai was viewed as something of an over-draft, but he’s already seeing some time with Detroit’s first-team defense.
  • Although Laquon Treadwell has struggled mightily during his first three seasons in a Vikings uniform, now is not the time to release the former first-round wide receiver, argues Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. Treadwell, 24 later this month, posted the best season of his career in 2018, but that only entailed 35 receptions and 302 yards as he played behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Minnesota would incur $2.5MM in dead money by cutting Treadwell, but the club would open up roughly $654K in cap space by doing so. As Cronin indicates, the Vikings could be hoping Treadwell flashes during the preseason and increases his trade value.
  • Vikings chief operating office Kevin Warren was today officially named as the new commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com indicated Monday (Twitter link). Warren will become the first African-American commissioner of a Power Five conference. As Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement, Warren plans to assist Minnesota in a transition phase over the next three months.
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20 comments on “NFC North Notes: Lions, Megatron, Vikings

    • QuantomofFandom

      He needs to do what Barry Sanders has done, get hired by the Lions as a brand ambassador. By the way, Barry had to pay back part of his signing bonus back, and he has made pease with it and he is greatest Lion of all time. Why can’t you megaton?

  1. bowserhound

    It’s clearly called a ‘signing’ bonus. Not a ‘play out your contract’ bonus. He signed, should be his money.

    • jkurk_22

      Wrong. When you get a signing bonus. The bonus is a reward for you signing on to play. So when you don’t honor your contract and play what you signed on for, then you probably shouldn’t be rewarded. The nfl bugs me in this respect. Teams and players both constantly whine about the contracts.. you both agreed, if you don’t like it later than that’s your fault. Deal with it and stop blaming everyone else. He shouldn’t be mad at the lions. He should realize it’s on him

      • warwhatisitgoodfor

        Lol get off your high horse. It’s 100% his choice to boycott the Lions if he wants to. Hell, I wouldn’t care about my old employer if that was what I got on my way out. It’s not like he wasn’t worth every penny they paid him. They tried to play hard ball and hold the money over his head to keep him playing…great way to treat one of their great players lololol

        • sheff86

          Jkurk,
          Let me help you out with something. I work for an NHL PA.
          That’s not even close to how contracts work. In all sports. And your post has two sides to it,neither makes any sense.

      • Spike1122

        I understand that rationale but I also understand it from the players prospective. In the NFL contracts are not fully guaranteed so if a player is underperforming the contract they signed then they get cut and get almost nothing. If a player over performs their contract that player receives nothing additional in return. The only party that benefits from this is the team.

  2. jb19

    Signing bonuses amortize after each year, so a five year contract with a $10 million signing bonus would amortize (generally) at $2 million per year. Most likely, the contract front loaded the bonus payout. So maybe it was paid over 2 years, or $5 million per year, for example. So if a person retires after year one, they would owe the team $5 million…. it’s fairly straightforward, but since Megatron was such a great player for the Lions, the Lions burned a bridge by demanding that money be repaid. Who knows how much value Megatron could have brought to the Lions via appearances or football camps for kids or something to that nature in his retirement days. Bad move by the Lions imo, but they were legally allowed to recoup the money. Doesn’t mean they should have from a PR standpoint and from a relationship standpoint with a franchise great.

  3. jb19

    Mathatron, I like that… but yea, it probably was paid out Day one since the Lions recouped that money. The front loaded signing bonuses aren’t the same thing as cap hits. In the NFL, you can have a $8 million AAV, but your first couple of years is where the bonus money is paid out… every contract and situation is different. But I am sure that is what happened here since Megatron had to repay the Lions for what is specifically referred to as the signing bonus.

  4. forwhomjoshbelltolls

    Having him wave to the crowd after the announcer says “Ladies and Gentleman, Calvin Johnson…” is probably not worth millions to the Lions.

  5. crosseyedlemon

    Yeah, it’s definitely the Lions fault that he got terrible advice from his agent.

  6. diller1340

    I don’t even want Calvin back around. He didn’t earn the money and he bailed out of no where. Lions are better off not having him around if that’s his attitude

  7. K3vin

    He must have CTE if he thinks he deserves to keep a bonus on a contract he didn’t honor. So sick of these athletes thinking the rules don’t apply to them.

  8. Rich

    He’ll end up “getting the money back”, but it will be as a paid organization employee.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Calvin Johnson : “Cmon, Rudy…we gotta lot of grounds keeping work to do here before the big game on Sunday”.

      • daman2032

        It will be a whole different kinda grass that would be growing by the field if Calvin was on grounds crew.

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