Mike Freeman of B/R, citing a number of NFL sources, reports that “at least a half-dozen teams” have reached out to retired WR Calvin Johnson to gauge whether he would be willing to come out of retirement. However, Johnson has resisted the overtures, which Freeman refers to as being “fairly fierce.”
Johnson has made the rounds this offseason and taken in practices for a few teams including the Raiders and Dolphins.
The problem will the idea of Johnson returning to the NFL for a team other than the Lions is that Detroit holds his rights, given that placed him on the reserve/retired list last year. This means that an interested team would have to work out a trade for Johnson, which further complicates the situation.
Johnson told reporters in Italy a few weeks ago that he thought about playing for another team, but Detroit wasn’t going to release him from his contract.
“I mean, I thought about it,” Johnson said, via the Detroit News. “Just like in basketball, you know, guys, they create these superteams. But it’s not quite like that in football where I had the freedom just to go.
“I was stuck in my contract with Detroit, and they told me, they would not release my contract, so I would have to come back to them. I didn’t see the chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall … and not going anywhere.
“It’s the definition of insanity,” Johnson said laughing.
“That’s everybody’s goal, when they come to the league, is to win a Super Bowl,” Johnson said. “That’s the ultimate goal. … I wanted to win it, and like I said, I just didn’t see that opportunity (with the Lions).”
Johnson formally announced his retirement from the NFL back in March of last year and the Lions later placed him on the reserve/retired list.
Johnson, 31, is a former first-round pick of the Lions back in 2007. He was in the fourth year of his eight-year, $150.5 million contract that included $60 million guaranteed and set to make base salaries of $15.95 million (2016), $16.5 million (2017), $17 million (2018), and $18.25 million (2019).
In total, Johnson played nine seasons for the Lions and totaled 731 receptions for 11,619 yards receiving and 83 touchdowns over the course of 135 games. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and selected to three first-team All-Pro units.