The Lions were willing to spend whatever it took to lock up wide receiver Calvin Johnson for years to come.
Johnson and the Lions are scheduled to announce a long-term contract extension this afternoon, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that it’s a seven-year deal worth $132 million, with $60 million guaranteed. That makes it the biggest contract in NFL history, surpassing Larry Fitzgerald’s contract with the Cardinals.
The Lions’ website pegs the deal as “a seven-year extension worth close to $130 million.” The site also says the contract reduces Johnson’s cap hit this year, meaning they’ll have more money available to re-sign linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who now looks like their top priority in free agency.
The $60 million “guarantee” may not be fully guaranteed: As we’ve seen many times with NFL contracts, guarantees can be less than advertised. But Johnson will clearly be among the highest-paid players in NFL history, and as staggering as the numbers look, Johnson is worth it. He’s only 26 years old and coming off a phenomenal season in which he caught 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns, then turned in a brilliant performance in the playoff loss to the Saints. And Johnson is known as a consummate professional, hard worker and good teammate who doesn’t get in trouble off the field.
This looks like a deal that should make both sides happy.