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Could Calvin Johnson’s retirement not be permanent?

Calvin Johnson AP

After Lions Hall of Fame tailback Barry Sanders abruptly retired, rumors of a return lingered for years. With Lions receiver Calvin Johnson reportedly retiring, the question becomes whether he’d consider returning after a year or so away from the game.

It’s a possibility that emerged during a four-man PFT weave during Monday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, with MDS, Darin Gantt, and Josh Alper joining me for three segments of the show. And if, for example, Johnson would retire for a year and then unretire, the Lions would have to instantly account under the cap for his 2016 base salary of nearly $16 million.

So they’d either have to cut him, trade him, or keep him. If the unretirement comes at at time when the Lions have less than $16 million in cap space available, the Lions would have to move quickly to get under the cap, if they wanted to keep him. If they’d cut him, it would allow Johnson to get a fresh start with the new team of his choice.

No one knows how Johnson will feel after having some time away from the game. Whether it’s a year from now or just six months from now, a change of heart for Johnson is possible — and it could turn the NFL on its head.

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38 Responses to “Could Calvin Johnson’s retirement not be permanent?”
  1. 12brichandfamous says: Feb 1, 2016 9:02 PM

    Lets make a deal

  2. ohand16 says: Feb 1, 2016 9:09 PM

    Patriots

  3. Teddy BH20's House of Noodles says: Feb 1, 2016 9:18 PM

    He’s just trying to force his way out of Detroit. Losing did the same thing to him as it did to Barry. And he knows that nobody is going to trade for him due to his outrageous contract base salary’s.

  4. xjippyx says: Feb 1, 2016 9:22 PM

    Talk about thirsty for a story

  5. key2heat says: Feb 1, 2016 9:22 PM

    He doesn’t wanna play for a losing team. Its obvious folks.

  6. FattyWayneFontes says: Feb 1, 2016 9:26 PM

    Wayne Fontes should weigh in.

  7. floratiotime says: Feb 1, 2016 9:26 PM

    Retire like Brett Favre so they can’t test you … juice up like mad … come out of retirement.

  8. thefatlazygamer says: Feb 1, 2016 9:27 PM

    He’s been so injury riddled I think he’s going to hang it up rather than hang around and get hurt worse. I don’t believe there is some other motive involved.

  9. absodefinitely says: Feb 1, 2016 9:29 PM

    They should have traded him when they had the chance. Now they might get nothing for him. The way that team is run is a joke, it’s no wonder they are the only team to ever go 0-16.

  10. genericcommenter says: Feb 1, 2016 9:31 PM

    He should make them cut him, whether he plans to retire or not.

  11. joemontanafootball16 says: Feb 1, 2016 9:33 PM

    Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that an athlete who’s taken years of wear and tear, and injuries, just wants to walk away from the game… while he can still walk? The way some of you guys talk, it seems you’d have everyone play until they drop dead on the field.

  12. Teddy BH20's House of Noodles says: Feb 1, 2016 9:38 PM

    Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that an athlete who’s taken years of wear and tear, and injuries, just wants to walk away from the game… while he can still walk?
    ————-
    Because he’s a skill position player and a WR no less. When was the last time you saw a retired WR limping around in old age or in a wheelchair?

  13. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Feb 1, 2016 9:40 PM

    Did we all miss the part where Johnson actually announced his retirement?

  14. staffordsyear says: Feb 1, 2016 9:51 PM

    Idiots, if he retires thats what he will do. Only people who have followed the Lions realize that the man has taken a beatin the last 9 years and wants to call it a career. You all can beg for him all you want but the fact is, if he retires that will be it.. so keep on dreamin.

  15. tomtravis76 says: Feb 1, 2016 10:23 PM

    The Lions need to cut him to allow both sides to work with a clean slate. And if Johnson wants to take a shot at a Lombardi with a ready now contender, it’s not like the fans of Detroit won’t welcome him back with loud cheers the day they retire his jersey.

  16. beavertonsteve says: Feb 1, 2016 10:25 PM

    It does seem like an odd loophole that a player can retire, his team spends his salary cap savings, and then un-retire and suddenly the team is out of cap compliance and has to cut him.

  17. calref1944 says: Feb 1, 2016 10:30 PM

    Calvin has always been a man of his word, one who does not play games. If he decides to retire, he will stay retired. As a long tortured Lion’s fan who was a 13 year old sitting in the bleachers in 1957 when they beat Cleveland, I understand his pain and suffering. Whatever he decides to do is OK with me.

  18. truecowboyfan says: Feb 1, 2016 10:31 PM

    Quit comparing this to Barry Sanders. Barry demanded a trade and then retired. Calvin just retired.

  19. Teddy BH20's House of Noodles says: Feb 1, 2016 10:36 PM

    Only people who have followed the Lions realize that the man has taken a beatin the last 9 years and wants to call it a career.
    —————-
    Give me a break. At his size, he’s delivered more of a beating than he ever took.

  20. prideof10000lakes says: Feb 1, 2016 10:37 PM

    The lions owe it to Megatron to choose his last few years.

    Same boat as AP but AP also fumbled three times in the NFC ship in 09 so he’s technically had his chances…

    SKOL

  21. jimmysee says: Feb 1, 2016 10:42 PM

    Brett Favre II?

  22. wrlegrand says: Feb 1, 2016 10:46 PM

    Would like to see Megatron, kelvin Benjamin, Funchess, Ginn and Greg Olsen lined up for the Panthers next year…hahaha

  23. senatorblutarsky says: Feb 1, 2016 10:47 PM

    Teddy BH20’s House of Noodles says:
    Feb 1, 2016 9:38 PM

    Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that an athlete who’s taken years of wear and tear, and injuries, just wants to walk away from the game… while he can still walk?
    ————-
    Because he’s a skill position player and a WR no less. When was the last time you saw a retired WR limping around in old age or in a wheelchair?
    __________________

    I’m sure Darryl Stingley would’ve disagreed with you after he took that hit from Jack Tatum in an EXHIBITION GAME.

  24. badrobot74 says: Feb 1, 2016 10:51 PM

    Barry has said that part of the reason he retired was not wanting Walter Payton’s record out of respect.. Probably beat up too. I don’t think it was just the losing seasons. If so he could’ve forced a trade or release.

  25. kidsamoa260 says: Feb 2, 2016 12:28 AM

    When Kam Chancellor smacked him and he fumbled on the goal line, that made his decision. Kam smacks your soul. Ask Vernon Davis, or Demeryious Thomas after that first smack in XLVIII.

  26. dexx57 says: Feb 2, 2016 12:31 AM

    I’d love to him and Fitzgerald on the Patriots

  27. dexx57 says: Feb 2, 2016 12:32 AM

    See him

  28. Deelron says: Feb 2, 2016 12:36 AM

    “Because he’s a skill position player and a WR no less. When was the last time you saw a retired WR limping around in old age or in a wheelchair?”

    Do you mean like Antwaan Randle El (age 36) who said all of two weeks ago he has problems going up and down stairs (not to mention the memory problems) or guys like Chris Henry who had CTE upon his death at age 26?

    I guess you’re right though, it’s rare to see them limping around in old age if they don’t make it there.

  29. theneedforspeeed says: Feb 2, 2016 2:28 AM

    Since BSPN seems to be the only one reporting this, I’m withholding judgement until it comes from someone credible, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

  30. Pocari Sweat says: Feb 2, 2016 5:02 AM

    Calvin actually stated after the season, what a month ago? – that he’d only play for Detroit.

    It’s a nice hypothetical to chew on though.

  31. greenlargo says: Feb 2, 2016 7:08 AM

    ohand16 says:
    Feb 1, 2016 9:09 PM
    Patriots

    62 61
    Report comment
    ———————————————

    Wow, that one word comment got the most clicks. Pretty split too. It’s not a crazy idea though. He has limited years left and may be feeling like he wants to see them count. As far as personal stats and recognition there is not much more for him, he’s done all that. The last thing for him is some ring action. The Lions are an obvious overhaul project the next couple years (sorry Lions fans, but true) and retirement might be more attractive than putting his body up for that purpose. But doing his final couple years for a legitimate contender with an elite QB throwing to him (Patriots or someone above said Panters too) might be worth it to him. Assume he has enough money that the ‘no income’ of retirement isn’t scary so he is going to be picky. If he plays for either of those teams it certainly won’t be free so there is question who can pony up. Patriots do have some great cap room and few free agents this year. On the flip side, if they can hang onto that then getting some of next year’s free agents extended is smart so it’s not a lock they would spend for Johnson. On the other hand, that deep threat need would be pretty much all set. I am not sure where the Panthers stand on available money. And they are getting Benjamin back next year (an upcoming Megatron?) so I think their willingness to stretch finances is not as great. (Benj and CJ tandem would be terrifying though). I think the sheer number of no votes on that post are not Pats fans that want to see the money used extending 2017 free agents so much as Patriots haters that cant stand how the Patriots front office keeps working good deals to keep that roster stacked and would be bitter if they made this one happen. (So not CJ lovers either) But not that those are rarely big splash free agents, they do it more by finding lower cost players that will deliver at a higher level. And also they have a system that makes the right guys succeed big name or no. So even when f this got dangled out there for the, there is no lock Pats would go for it.

  32. guypatsfan says: Feb 2, 2016 7:58 AM

    Come to New England, Calvin. Tom Brady passing to Calvin Johnson, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Gronk would terrorize the league.

  33. jwilliamsspf says: Feb 2, 2016 8:01 AM

    Uninformed people sitting around talking about a guy they don’t know who is making a decision they will never have to make. Thanks for the analysis and the follow up comments, boys.

  34. vikingforlife says: Feb 2, 2016 8:06 AM

    I would never venture to guess what a man was thinking right now as he is contemplating his future. What I have seen of Calvin over the years however, is the most upstanding WR who never complains, never causes trouble for his team and always seems to be just a “good guy” ALL the time. If these reports are true, I will miss seeing him play. I will understand though and there is more to life than football and everyone should respect that.

  35. learysdisciples says: Feb 2, 2016 8:50 AM

    It could be today. Tomorrow it might be. Next week it may be. Next month it can be. Until then we will never know. Anyway, here’s the headlines for you next three stories on this topic.

  36. malevolentmuse says: Feb 2, 2016 10:15 AM

    Reporters love talking about this kind of thing because they cannot fathom being fed up with the beating football players take. They cannot fathom walking away from that kind of money. It’s why there were rumors of Sanders returning for years. Times have changed thanks to light being shed on concussions. The smart players are getting out early. I think this is only the beginning of “shocking” early retirements.

  37. bkostela says: Feb 4, 2016 11:13 AM

    senatorblutarsky says:
    Feb 1, 2016 10:47 PM
    Teddy BH20’s House of Noodles says:
    Feb 1, 2016 9:38 PM

    Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that an athlete who’s taken years of wear and tear, and injuries, just wants to walk away from the game… while he can still walk?
    ————-
    Because he’s a skill position player and a WR no less. When was the last time you saw a retired WR limping around in old age or in a wheelchair?
    __________________

    I’m sure Darryl Stingley would’ve disagreed with you after he took that hit from Jack Tatum in an EXHIBITION GAME.
    _______________________________

    The Senator has a point. Concussions are normally the only reason WRs retire early. Calvin (for all we know, and what do we really know) doesn’t have a concussion problem. He is simply walking away from the game.

  38. bkostela says: Feb 4, 2016 11:14 AM

    guypatsfan says:
    Feb 2, 2016 7:58 AM
    Come to New England, Calvin. Tom Brady passing to Calvin Johnson, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Gronk would terrorize the league.
    ________________

    Megatron doesn’t fit the NE mold. He doesn’t whine and complain nearly enough.

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