Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the Lions could not only be forced to move on without DT Ndamukong Suh next year, but the future of Pro Bowl WR Calvin Johnson could be in question as well.
Florio points out that Johnson will have a massive cap figure of $20.558 million for the 2015 season. Detroit could reduce that number by restructuring his contract and converting a portion of his salary into a signing bonus that is prorated over the remainder of the contract.
This would lower his 2015 cap figure down to something close to $12.5 million or so, but in turn, would also increase his 2016 cap number to over $24 million.
“At some point, Johnson may have to take less money in order to stick around,” Florio writes. “If he doesn’t want to do that, the Lions may have to part ways with him.”
Florio adds that Johnson’s health is likely to factor into the team’s plans for Johnson as he continues to be hampered by an ankle issue.
Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com points out that the Lions would create $20.9 million in 2015 by releasing him outright. On top of that, the Lions have already paid Johnson $51.8 million over the first three years of his extension, so parting ways with him for $12.5 million in cap space seems like a shortsighted move.
Johnson, 29, is in the third year of his eight-year, $150.5 million contract that included $60 million guaranteed. The remainder of his contract includes base salaries and cap figures of:
- 2014: $5M ($13.058M cap figure)
- 2015: $12.5M ($20.558M cap figure)
- 2016: $15.95M ($24.008M cap figure)
- 2017: $16.5M ($21.358M cap figure)
- 2018: $17M ($17M cap figure)
- 2019: $18.25M ($18.25M cap figure)
While it’s an interesting idea to consider, it seems unlikely that Detroit would part way with Johnson next year. After all, he’s not even 30 years old and has preformed at a very high level since signing his contract extension.
Over the course of five games, Johnson has caught 22 passes for 348 yards receiving and two touchdowns. His status for Week 6 remains in doubt as HC Jim Caldwell told reporters that he’s strongly considering the idea of holding him out until his ankle is healthy.