Would the Detroit Lions trade Calvin Johnson? From the “this makes absolutely no sense” news desk:
— Spotrac (@spotrac) May 12, 2014
First, it needs to be pointed out that “may consider” doesn’t equate to action, or even point to future action. This isn’t a “maybe” situation, this is a “maybe maybe” situation.
Second, if something eventually happens, it won’t be soon. The tweet touches on the salary cap ramifications for the Lions but it deserves more explanation than the twitter character limits allow.
Megatron is set to count about $13 million against the Lions’ salary cap in 2014. With $29 million in dead money remaining on his monster deal, the Lions would have to clear $16 million in cap space to make a trade. That’s nearly impossible given the current roster loaded with players whose dead money values are nearly equal to or greater than their 2014 cap number. There just aren’t savings to be had. To put names on it as a general exercise, the Lions would have to cut Ndamukong Suh, Rob Sims, Jason Jones, Corey Hilliard, C.J. Mosley, Reggie Bush, Dominic Raiola, DeAndre Levy, and Ashlee Palmer to trade Calvin Johnson and stay under the cap.
Moving to the possibility of a trade next year, the Lions would face a nearly identical cap charge whether Calvin Johnson is on the roster or not. This is where the “may consider” gains some validity. Eating about $20 million in cap hits would be tough to swallow but CJ’s body has taken a beating through seven seasons and he’ll be eight years in after the 2014 season. If the Lions sense that health may be a problem in the later stages of Johnson’s career, it isn’t crazy to think they would be open to listening to opportunities to cash in those chips.
Of course, a big return haul in a trade is predicated on Johnson maintaining his status as one of the game’s true elite receivers. As long as he remains that, it doesn’t make sense for the Lions to start the post-Megatron era early.