Detroit Lions: What if Calvin retires?


I’m sure it’s been on the minds of Detroit Lions fans for weeks now. What will Calvin Johnson’s decision be? Will he stay, or will he walk away from the game of football? As of today, this is all we know.

Unfortunately for the Lions and their fans, there is nothing on the wall at Ford Field that says “break glass in case Calvin Johnson retires.” I’m sure the thought of Calvin retiring hadn’t crossed anyone’s mind in the front office before he made the statement that he was planning on “evaluating options for my future.” So it’s obvious that there was no immediate plans on the docket to replace the best player and frankly the biggest draw on the roster.

So what to do if the unthinkable truly does go down? The good news is the Lions financially find themselves in the best possible standing to deal with the matter in free agency. Calvin even gives Detroit an extra $11 million on his way out of the door. If that weren’t enough, we also know that the Lions have a plethora of draft picks to utilize this year and just so happen to be doing some very exciting things in their scouting department. The potential bad news comes from the uncertainty that whatever player the Lions pick up will be able to do at least half of what Calvin Johnson has done for this team. Still you have to wonder what the best method the Lions should use if Megatron powers down. Lets imagine a few scenarios here.

Free Agency

Ok let’s say you go the free agency route. The names that pop out at you aren’t all that exciting. First off there’s Alshon Jeffrey, who we have listed as a possibility here before. From there the list goes to Jermaine Kearse, Travis Benjamin, Rueben Randle or Marvin Jones. Not exactly the most enticing list. The goal here is obviously Jeffrey. If you’re not able to obtain him, then you have to try to get two of these other guys. Production is production in the NFL. It doesn’t really matter whose name is on it. Think about it. The NFL’s best teams don’t have superstar receivers outside of Denver and Deymarius Thomas. That theory falls in line with the so called “Patriot way” that most believe Bob Quinn is bringing to Detroit.


Next move is the draft. One good thing about the draft is that it’s produced one to two superstar potential receivers every year now for a while. Obvious names that come to mind as of late are guys like Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. But at first glance there doesn’t appear to be any over the top talent in this years draft. Names to watch out for would be Mike Thomas of Ohio State, Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss, Notre Dame’s Will Fuller and even former Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller is making a lot of noise after switching to wide receiver. One or more of these guys is destined to be there at 16 when the Lions approach the podium. The trouble you find yourself in is that the Lions top need is not at wide receiver. Even if Calvin leaves. So if you take a guy in the first round, you’re missing out on a player that fill a more pressing need. Like Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.

Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the New York Jets in a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the New York Jets in a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Do Nothing

You read that right. Do nothing. It’s certainly an option for the Lions this offseason. As I mentioned they can spend top dollar and use the draft to fill the most important needs of this team before they even think about a receiver, and it could be better for the team if they go that route. Fans will no doubt hate it, but it could actually work. The Lions still have Golden Tate who is easily a number one receiver pretty much anywhere else in the league. They can utilize Theo Riddick in the pass game like they did in 2015. A method that led to him leading all running backs in receiving. You’ve got Eric Ebron and TJ Jones who can pick up some slack as well. The goal here shouldn’t be to have multiple superstar receivers. The goal should be to fix the running game and present a balanced offense. Get that going and things can change for the better in Detroit faster than you think. Then if the Lions want, they can try to sign guys like DeSean Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders, DeAndre Hopkins, Markas Wheaton or Brandon LaFell once they hit the market in 2017. You might find that the Lions will have even more money to spend next season anyways. In fact they definitely will if they don’t pile a ton on a receiver this summer.

What path will the Detroit Lions take? Who really knows right now? All anyone can do is sit back and wait to see what Calvin Johnson’s decision will be. Personally I’d be happy if he stayed, but I can definitely see how the Lions would be alright if he doesn’t.