Wednesday’s announcement from Lions receiver Calvin Johnson that an announcement regarding his future is coming seemed complex and curiously timed. But the truth may flow from the simplest explanation.
Johnson genuinely is thinking about retiring from football.
Ed Werder of ESPN, citing an unnamed source, reports that Johnson has cleaned out his locker at the team’s facility, unlike other veteran players. Johnson also reportedly has told his mother that he’s not sure he wants to play.
If he retires, Johnson will owe the Lions $3.2 million in previously-paid signing-bonus money. If he waits out the Lions and refuses to renegotiate a contract that would pay him $15.95 million in salary this season, along with a $24 million cap number, the Lions likely would cut Johnson, allowing him to keep the $3.2 million.
It also would give him the freedom to play for another team, if he changes his mind later.
Either way, Johnson seems to be, at least for now, having real questions about whether he’ll play again. And while the chronic struggles of the Lions may have something to do with that, Johnson also likely realizes that he’s not the guy at age 30 that he was in earlier years. Unless and until he comes to terms with that, it could be hard for him to continue.