Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald signed a record setting deal last season that will keep him with the team for next eight years for $120 million. Fitzgerald’s staggering deal opens the door for other play-makers like Calvin Johnson who will be entering the final year of his rookie contract. Larry made the case for Lion’s giving Johnson a deal even bigger than his own.
“He should [have a higher contract],” said Fitzgerald, per MLive.com. “He’s at the top of the game right now. He’s an extremely, extremely impressive talent.”
There’s no question that the Lions should offer Johnson a similar deal to the one Fitzgerald signed with the Cardinals but the issue that they’re dealing with is much different than a lot of other teams. As I discussed last week with some of our readers, the Lions’ losing past has forced them to give out some huge contracts to rookies like Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh which isn’t exactly a bad thing but the new CBA has cut rookie pay considerably.
Considering that Johnson has lived up to and surpassed any of the expectations that were set for him coming out of college, he’s now line for a raise that will top his already large rookie contract. Detroit has said that they would like to keep free agent-to-be DE Cliff Avril but doing so would limit their ability to re-sign Johnson during the offseason. The good news is that the Lions have their franchise tag to use on him following the 2012 season so he’ll at least be in Detroit for another few years. Still, having a number of large contracts already on the books would spend them pretty thin and could cause problems when trying to fill other needs at cornerback and on the offensive line but getting Johnson locked him is undoubtedly the team’s top priority in the months to come.