Detroit Lions: Is Calvin Johnson leaving?


One of the more persistent rumors in all of Detroit Lions land is the rumor that begs the question, are the Lions planning on parting ways with Calvin Johnson?

It’s a rumor that’s seemingly came out of nowhere and not one person is sure of whether it is rooted in any truth whatsoever. The basis of it all is that after another struggling season, the Detroit Lions should cut or trade Calvin in order to free up cap space or get a high draft pick or both.

Is it really in the Lions best interest to cut or trade away its top offensive performer on a team that has clearly been held back by their offense? When you put it that way it really doesn’t make much sense, if any at all. The Lions have spent the last nine years trying to find the right player to compliment Calvin. They’ve also spent the last 17 years trying to fix a running game that’s never ranked higher than 17th since Barry Sanders retirement. Once again, when you look at it like this, it doesn’t make sense.

This is essentially the same situation as it would be if the Lions had notions of parting ways with Barry Sanders in the 90’s. Outside of 1995, the Lions offense struggled a lot through that entire decade. Trading Sanders away would have crippled the team. It likely would have crippled the entire franchise.

I’ve been pondering this scenario on a daily basis since the rumor hit the web early in the season. Here are a few reasons the Lions won’t be moving on from Calvin Johnson after 2015.

Still has a lot to offer

I somewhat touched on it in the beginning there. Frankly Calvin Johnson is still one of the best receivers in the league today and one of the best of all time. It’s clear that Johnson has a lot left in the tank, but is handcuffed to a conservative offense that’s about to find its way out of town after three more games.

It’s evident that the Lions still need Johnson. Despite turning 31 next season, it’s pretty rare to see any team trade away their leader in receiving yards and touchdowns.

Value is low

By this I mean if you’re plan is to trade Calvin Johnson, you’re not going to get anything you think you’re going to get. Even if it is Megatron. This is not the NBA, 1st round draft picks aren’t just traded around like they don’t mean anything. At this point you would be lucky to get third round pick and a practice squad guy. That’s if you can even convince any team to trade a draft pick in a league that’s built through the draft more than any other league in sports.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) walks off the field after the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field. The Cardinals won 42-17. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Calvin is too expensive

This is a two parter. Part one is simple. If the Lions were indeed able to move Calvin Johnson over the summer, they would find themselves still paying Megatron a hefty $17,774,000 in dead money. You may remember dead money as a key component of Martin Mayhew’s failure as a GM. Despite all the failures, the Lions find themselves going into the offseason with no dead money on the books for the first time in over a decade. Seems illogical to throw  high amount on there right before free agency. Especially when you’re looking to extend guys like Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay.

The second part is simple too. Calvin is too expensive for any team to take on. If you hold a first round pick in the draft, why trade it for an $80 million dollar cap hit over he next four years? That’s what any team would have to make room for on their books if they want Johnson. Said franchise would have to clear $24,008,000 just for 2016. Which is the peak amount on Johnson’s contract.

I know I said earlier that he still has plenty in the tank. But it’s hard to justify paying a 31-year-old receiver $80 mil. even if he realistically never sees all that money.

It’s good for business

Being simplistic again here, Calvin Johnson puts butts in the seats. The Lions have been a downtrodden franchise for years, but that’s never stopped the city from coming to see two the greatest NFL players go to work on the field.

Calvin is a spectacle and a PR dream come true. You can slap his face on anything in the building or have him appear at any function in town. Where Calvin goes, money follows. This is why on any given Sunday 96% percent of the people in Ford Field are wearing Calvin Johnson jerseys. The Detroit Lions are a sports team. But they’re also a business and they know how to make money. It’s not letting go of your cash cow.

Endearment to the city of Detroit

This goes hand in hand with the business aspect of this piece. The fact is that this city loves this guy. It would be hard move that will likely upset many fans. especially the season ticket holders that come to see Calvin every year no matter what. Or the Lions fan that named their dog CJ or their son Calvin. It’s an emotional move to make. Which is why it would be an insane first move for the new GM to make.

The other emotional thing is Calvin just doesn’t want to leave.

What do you think Lions fans?