The player’s agent, Bus Cook, said the contract announced today is worth $60 million guaranteed. That figure and the total value of the contract are both NFL records.
“This kind of deal doesn’t come around too often,” Cook said. “He’s the best.”
Johnson helped Detroit reach the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years. The Lions have built one of the league’s most exciting young teams by drafting Johnson in 2007, quarterback Matthew Stafford two years later and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2010. The challenge now will be keeping all those stars longterm.
Johnson, nicknamed Megatron, is a two-time Pro Bowler and his 45 touchdowns receiving are the most in the NFL since 2008. He signed a six-year deal worth up to $64 million after Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2007, and was entering the final year of that contract.
This extension starts immediately and runs through the 2019 season.
“They were happy to get this thing done with, and I was happy as well,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t a lot of confrontation. We weren’t butting heads or anything. It was just something that we knew needed to get done.”
The deal tops the one given to receiver Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona last year — an eight-year deal that could pay him as much as $120 million.
“Calvin’s one of those guys — we’ve said this about a few guys that we have in our building — whatever they pay him is not enough,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s truly a special player.”
Johnson is coming off a spectacular season in which he did what only Jerry Rice and Randy Moss have done. Rice, Moss and Johnson are the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season. Johnson finished with 96 catches for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 TDs.
Johnson is also one of six receivers in league history with at least 45 TD catches and 5,000 yards receiving in a four-season span, along with Rice, Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Lance Alworth.
In the playoffs, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in a loss to New Orleans, becoming the first player with 200 receiving yards in a playoff debut.
Johnson said the conclusion of Peyton Manning’s tenure in Indianapolis made him appreciate the opportunity to stay with the Lions for a while.
“The comfort level you receive, being able to be in one place for a long time, is unlike any other,” Johnson said. “Having security, not having to worry about where
I’m going to be next year. And then two — having a good team, having a lot of guys locked up on this team that you’ve had success with, and that you just continue to grow with.”
Stafford has three years left on the deal he signed as a rookie, so the Lions appear set with arguably the league’s top quarterback-receiver tandem for the foreseeable future.
“When you’re fortunate to have a good quarterback, those don’t come by a lot in the league,” Johnson said. “How many teams are looking for a No. 1 quarterback right now? I would have to be beside myself to leave here.”