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Does Calvin Johnson want the Lions to cut him?

Calvin Johnson AP

The Scouting Combine is a bastion of rumors and hot takes. Here’s one that was making the rounds there over the past few days.

Some believe receiver Calvin Johnson is dragging his feet with the Lions so that the Lions will cut him.

The thinking is that Johnson didn’t calculate the move, and that at this point he genuinely does not want to play. But, as the theory goes, Johnson has realized while taking time to mull things over that, if he’s going to retire, it’s better to retire not as a Lion but as a free agent.

If he retires as a Lions and later unretires, the Lions will control his rights. If he retires as a free agent and later unretires, he can sign with any team he wants, unimpeded by the Lions.

In 2008, for example, Brett Favre retired in February. When he decided he wanted to play again later that year, the Packers kept him from joining the Vikings right away, trading him to the Jets.

Perhaps Johnson, if he walks away, will want to return in 2016 or 2017 with another team in the division. If he’s released, he can do that.

Also, if Johnson is cut, the Lions have no basis for seeking repayment of $3.2 million in signing bonus money.

It’s the smartest possible play for Johnson or any other player with a prohibitive cap number who is thinking about walking away. With Johnson at $24 million for 2016, the Lions need Johnson to walk away — if he doesn’t, they could be sending him packing on March 9.

And then, if he wants, he can later make a comeback with the Packers, Vikings, Bears, or anyone else he wants.

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74 Responses to “Does Calvin Johnson want the Lions to cut him?”
  1. avikesfan says: Feb 27, 2016 1:53 PM

    Hmmm, possibly

  2. poorcalvinisstuckonthecrappylions says: Feb 27, 2016 1:54 PM

    YES! Get off that permanent dumpster fire, Detroit should be ashamed of themselves if they don’t……wait. No other team in the NFL is ashamed at themselves like Detroit is.

  3. tjacks7 says: Feb 27, 2016 1:55 PM

    Like Favre saw then, and everyone else sees now, is that going to the Vikings puts you on an immediate contender. Except this time they’ll be around for the next 10 plus years with multiple Super Bowls. Smart move, Calvin.

  4. blowfishes says: Feb 27, 2016 1:56 PM

    Would love him with the Vikings… but as much as I love Bridgewater, it would be so tempting to play with Rodgers for a couple of seasons.

  5. key2heat says: Feb 27, 2016 1:57 PM

    Obviously he wants to play for a better team.

  6. kcchefs58 says: Feb 27, 2016 1:57 PM

    I would.

  7. housemusic1200 says: Feb 27, 2016 1:59 PM

    Yet another article based purely on speculation, and hypotheticals. Nice job.

  8. nflpoker says: Feb 27, 2016 2:06 PM

    Makes perfect sense. I bet he doesn’t want to play for the Lions for the rest of his career. Why not get cut and sign with a team that can possibly win the SB.

  9. metrocritical says: Feb 27, 2016 2:09 PM

    This one probably falls closer to the hot take category than the rumor category. At this point, no one but Calvin and his family know what’s going on and Calvin himself may still be torn. By all accounts, he’s tight with his teammates, but tired of losing, loyal to his team but more loyal to his health. He probably has some people telling him to force the Lions to cut him and go to a contender, others telling him to retire and help the team’s cap space going forward and others telling him to come back at his current salary or renegotiate. His head is probably spinning and causing his feet to drag. Caldwell probably wants 81 back. Quinn probably wants the cap space. Long suffering fans hope he makes his decision soon and in a manner that maintains a bit of dignity for all involved.

  10. cpanthersfan says: Feb 27, 2016 2:16 PM

    Be a nice fit in charlotte

  11. genericcommenter says: Feb 27, 2016 2:24 PM

    This would be the smart move. No reason to pay back millions in bonus money when the team is obviously going to cut you otherwise.

  12. No one important says: Feb 27, 2016 2:32 PM

    It just wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the league if he came to Green Bay.

    Rodgers throwing to Jordy Nelson, Megatron, and Cobb.

  13. tvguy22 says: Feb 27, 2016 2:46 PM

    Megatron and Gronk lining up on the same side would be a bit of a problem for defenses…

  14. chawk12thman says: Feb 27, 2016 2:55 PM

    This isn’t personal, its just good business……He really should not retire and force his release. He holds the leverage and should use it. Trust that if the team held the cards, they would play them.

    He should at the very least get a contract from Detroit to waive the bonus money, to accept retirement before March 9………

  15. distracted9 says: Feb 27, 2016 2:57 PM

    I could see him in New England.. Not a Pats fan but to me that’d make the most sense for him.

  16. lionfish57 says: Feb 27, 2016 2:59 PM

    Come to Green Bay! Go after this guy Ted Thompson!

  17. balance77blog says: Feb 27, 2016 3:01 PM

    He is a big man and like big dogs they get old quick. He has given his all to the Lions. He deserves change of scenery.

  18. Rolo Tomassi says: Feb 27, 2016 3:05 PM

    In other news it’s reported that Arron Rodgers will play the entire 2016 season with his favorite giant pineapple size butt plug inserted.

  19. simplesimon1 says: Feb 27, 2016 3:08 PM

    No, the Lions don’t need him to walk away. People keep saying that but it’s simply not true. Even with his salary, as big as it is, the Lions still have 46 of the 53 person team under contract and have over $33 million in cap space. If he’s gone they get an extra $11 million in cap space. In the end, they don’t actually need to restructure anything.

  20. flickaboogie says: Feb 27, 2016 3:11 PM

    Calvin is under contract and the Lions won’t cut him. He can either play, retire or renegotiate. This is the same as they did with Barry.

  21. golions1 says: Feb 27, 2016 3:16 PM

    The Lions have 35 million in cap space after figuring in his salary for 2016. They don’t need to cut him. This article is speculative fantasy, nothing more. The Lions have treated him with respect and he will do the same. He is a person of integrity and a self-professed man of God, who by all accounts lives it. He won’t play games.

  22. markthemarauder says: Feb 27, 2016 3:27 PM

    I truly believe following him his whole career that he is a much better person than everyone especially this character writing this article gives him credit for.and Martha is the best owner we fans have ever had if he wants out and talks to her I think she woukd give him whatever he wants. they’ve already giving him the biggest WR contract ever.

  23. gjdodger2 says: Feb 27, 2016 3:31 PM

    Absolutely. This has always been about money. The Lions want CJ to retire, not just for the salary savings and bonus recoupment, but especially for the $16 million in cap space over the next two years; they can sign someone at his current skill level and have money left over. Meg wants the Lions to either release or trade him, so he can go out with a winning team. In the end, I suspect he’ll just come back and play another year.

  24. cornerstone2001 says: Feb 27, 2016 3:32 PM

    ….see Barry Sanders

  25. badmoonrison says: Feb 27, 2016 3:35 PM

    Maybe hes just still on the fence. It is a big decision and a ton of loot too.

  26. badmoonrison says: Feb 27, 2016 3:38 PM

    If he does go somewhere else, that team gets better instantly. And that QB just made a lot of fantasy leagues.

  27. kylexitron says: Feb 27, 2016 3:38 PM

    Seattle is waiting for them to cut him also.

  28. tedmurph says: Feb 27, 2016 3:45 PM

    Maybe I’m missing something, but what would the Lions gain by cutting him? His bonus money has already been paid, and they hold his rights. If he files his papers they can go after his 3.2 mil signing bonus. if they cut him, they can’t. If he doesn’t show they put him on the reserved/retired/DNReport list, where I don’t think he counts against the cap. If he shows up to play, they can deal with it then, but the cap hit vs dead money(12mil) is not that prohibitive.

  29. jswheeler says: Feb 27, 2016 3:54 PM

    Brady and Johnson. Put Brady down for 57 TD’s with Gronk, Edelman, Johnson and the RB. Wow what a set of targets.

  30. lscratchingthesurface says: Feb 27, 2016 4:06 PM

    Funny, how Peyton is getting the no pressure… Decide whenever. Calvin has earned his right to decide when he wants to.

  31. cheeseisfattening says: Feb 27, 2016 4:08 PM

    I almost forgot how scared the Packers were that Favre would join the Vikings.

  32. ymca2014 says: Feb 27, 2016 4:23 PM

    Calvin’s fingers are crooked from a tough career. He’s also taken several blows to the head the past few years. Lots of bell ringings. 🔔

  33. upnorthvikesfan says: Feb 27, 2016 4:48 PM

    I really doubt he will return. But trying to get cut so he doesn’t have to pay back the bonus money makes a lot of sense.

  34. joe400e says: Feb 27, 2016 5:08 PM

    NFL should impose a rule stating anyone that retires can’t play for 2 years.

  35. learysdisciples says: Feb 27, 2016 5:14 PM

    What took you so long to figure this out?

  36. drunkraider says: Feb 27, 2016 5:14 PM

    Todays media.

    my sources that are close to the situation and close to other sources from the nfl that are sources to their sources say he wants to be cut.

    the real source is the magic 8 ball in the back room

  37. roadtrip3500 says: Feb 27, 2016 5:20 PM

    Giants have the cap space, the QB, and a perennial Pro Bowl WR on the other side. If Cruz comes back healthy as well, who does the free safety cover over the top: OBJ, Vic, or Megatron? That’s a three-receiver set no defensive coordinator wants to see.

  38. ee00ee says: Feb 27, 2016 5:23 PM

    By word spreading around you mean between you, Rapoport, and some other hacks, right? I defy you to list even 1 nfl team personnel who’s said this.

  39. axespray says: Feb 27, 2016 5:32 PM

    tjacks7 says:
    Feb 27, 2016 1:55 PM
    Like Favre saw then, and everyone else sees now, is that going to the Vikings puts you on an immediate contender. Except this time they’ll be around for the next 10 plus years with multiple Super Bowls. Smart move, Calvin.
    1 playoff win since the 2005 season…

  40. thefootballgodssay says: Feb 27, 2016 5:37 PM

    Calvin Johnson. Victor Cruz Odell Beckham Jr
    Wow Eli Manning will have like 75 td’s and 0 int’s

  41. Wisconsin's Favorite Son Jeffrey Be Dahmed says: Feb 27, 2016 5:51 PM

    Clicks for profits, eh, boys?

  42. therealraider says: Feb 27, 2016 6:43 PM

    He knows the Lions aren’t going to win anything under Jim Caldwell.

  43. ravensfan56 says: Feb 27, 2016 6:47 PM

    The Baltimore Ravens have never had a WR make the Pro Bowl. It’s pathetic!

  44. toybkshr says: Feb 27, 2016 6:58 PM

    Of course he wants to be cut & I don’t blame him!

  45. bert1913 says: Feb 27, 2016 7:28 PM

    of course he does, who really wants to play in Detroit or Cleveland

  46. The Almighty Cabbage says: Feb 27, 2016 7:49 PM

    cheeseisfattening says:
    Feb 27, 2016 4:08 PM

    I almost forgot how scared the Packers were that Favre would join the Vikings.


    Oh yeah, we were petrified, but we pretty much got over it when Favre added to your lifelong misery with one of his patented season-ending interceptions to end your “storybook romance.”

    Rodgers leading the Packers to their 4th Lombardi Trophy the very next year was just icing on the cake.

    Enjoy PonderJackWater… we sure are.

  47. campcouch says: Feb 27, 2016 7:51 PM

    Why would he return to a divisional rival? At this point he’s looking at a SB not first round KO.

  48. manderson4150 says: Feb 27, 2016 8:01 PM

    I have been a lions follower for fifty years and have seen some very odd and asinine decisions made by my team but the bottom line is if Johnson wants to go elsewhere then let him go, the lions may have had bad teams around johnson but they paid him on time and treated him well.

  49. revren10 says: Feb 27, 2016 8:14 PM

    two third round picks and send him to new England so he can play with the greatest quarterback ever

  50. The Almighty Cabbage says: Feb 27, 2016 8:21 PM

    My apologies to the Lions fans for having answered the purple chucklehead. Moving on…

    Even as a fan of a Division rival, I do not want to see Calvin Johnson in any other uniform, including the uniform of the team I root for. It would just seem wrong. If he continues to play, I want him to play for Detroit and Detroit only.

  51. corporatemediaprostitute says: Feb 27, 2016 8:25 PM


  52. stew48 says: Feb 27, 2016 8:30 PM

    If his goal is to play another year, not in Detroit, he will probably play in one of these states: FL, LA, TX, AZ or southern CA. Yes, weather will be a factor.

  53. csszrr says: Feb 27, 2016 9:09 PM

    2 3rd round picks for Megatron. Patriot fans must be smoking the really good stuff.

  54. tylawspick6 says: Feb 27, 2016 9:13 PM

    Welcome to NE with Forte.

  55. whatjusthapped says: Feb 27, 2016 9:38 PM

    No way he will sign with the Vikings, he wants to play on a contender and by definition that means a team with a franchise QB. Bridgewater is many things, however, none of them is being a franchise QB.

  56. m8gaman says: Feb 27, 2016 10:47 PM

    Join the dark side Megatron, embrace your inner villain… and play for the Patriots!

  57. immafubared says: Feb 27, 2016 10:51 PM

    If he has no intention of playing again i think hd would know that by now. Im sure his agent told him to sit tight, make them cut you and then all possibilties are endless even staying retired. I thinkmhe is tired of freekin losing is all.

  58. drithe bors says: Feb 27, 2016 10:55 PM

    He’s coming to Carolina! you heard it here first!

  59. leef2020 says: Feb 28, 2016 3:19 AM

    Calvin does not want to play for any team but the Lions.

    Print it and deal with it.

  60. stellarperformance says: Feb 28, 2016 7:59 AM

    cheeseisfattening says:
    Feb 27, 2016 4:08 PM
    I almost forgot how scared the Packers were that Favre would join the Vikings.

    It wasn’t just his Packer teammates that were afraid for him. If you ask around, ALL players from ALL teams are afraid of ending up with the Vikings.

  61. mysterytonite says: Feb 28, 2016 9:07 AM

    If his motivation is to get out and he has the leverage of his high number against the cap then I guess he should use it. I would say respect the team and come to them and ask for a trade if you aren’t happy but I’ve seen teams (and not just the Lions) play hardball and it can be pretty frustrating for all those involved. Interesting to see how this plays out.

  62. xli2006 says: Feb 28, 2016 9:24 AM

    I get the Free Agency vs Lions Rights part, but why does this article conclude that he wants to stay in the division?!? Does any Free Agent narrow their focus to a division? That seems far fetched. The Lions are not contending for anything anytime soon, Calvin is most likely out of patience with the organization and probably would like to keep some options open. He could only do that if cut. If he just wants to win, he’ll be up for grabs across the league, not just the NFC North.

  63. twelsh36446 says: Feb 28, 2016 1:32 PM

    axespray you’re kidding right? 10 years hahahahahahha. lmao I bet the Viking’s end up third in their division.

  64. deebo61 says: Feb 28, 2016 4:37 PM

    Damn Lions. I’m still pissed about how you did Barry Sanders. He was the best, loved watching him and you ruined him!! And now Megatron……..smdh.

  65. vikingprideforever says: Feb 28, 2016 9:32 PM

    My guess is he would choose NE. I’ve also heard rumors of Forte headed to NE. Scary thoughts for the rest of the NFL

  66. admiral174 says: Feb 29, 2016 9:42 AM

    Remind me. Why would Favre ever want to go to the Vikings???

  67. timmmah10 says: Feb 29, 2016 12:52 PM

    I’m on board with the Lions just holding onto him and forcing his hand. They aren’t winning anything this year anyway, so tying the cap up is fine with me this season. One of Quinn’s first moves as a GM is not going to be letting a guy dictate how the GM can control his roster. The best financial move for Detroit is to let him sit out and then fine him for missing offseason stuff. Might not be the best competitive move because money won’t be available for free agents, but letting him walk away will allow you to trade him if he wants to come back and gets you some signing bonus back to use in future cap. There’s less value in cutting him than holding onto him..

    Game on.

  68. jonnyd34 says: Feb 29, 2016 1:55 PM

    All you guys trying to claim CJ for your teams, and attempting to eloquently present your case for “how he makes our offense better” are dreaming. He is a Lion, for better or worse! If he plays another year, great we’d love to watch him under the new front office regime. If he waits to get cut to keep the bonus loot before retiring, that makes perfect sense on his end too. There is no way he is coming to play for your team! Especially you Viking and Packers guys on here! Go Lions!

  69. tylawspick6 says: Feb 29, 2016 2:58 PM

    Welcome to the Pats.

  70. cobaltdriver says: Feb 29, 2016 5:55 PM

    Like Favre saw then, and everyone else sees now, is that going to the Vikings puts you on an immediate contender. Except this time they’ll be around for the next 10 plus years with multiple Super Bowls. Smart move, Calvin. did that work out for Favre?

  71. fmc651 says: Feb 29, 2016 6:13 PM

    Keep him off the Vikings. Not worth the money he is paid. The have to resign Harry this year and Barr the following.

  72. laffers says: Mar 1, 2016 2:40 PM

    It’s amazing that there is even a discussion as to what Johnson should do. Wait until they cut him, keep the 3.2 mill and do what ever he wishes as far as playing again one day. If, by chance, he retires as a Lion and pays back the 3.2, he should be in the concussion protocol for life!

  73. ktm300xcwe says: Mar 2, 2016 5:47 PM

    Like Favre saw then, and everyone else sees now, is that going to the Vikings puts you on an immediate contender. Except this time they’ll be around for the next 10 plus years with multiple Super Bowls. Smart move, Calvin. did that work out for Favre?
    _________________________________________Got him ONE play away from the Super Bowl. Favre didn’t get there because of HIS mistake.

  74. davejbolin says: Mar 3, 2016 4:57 PM

    Did anyone ever think that Calvin Johnson hasn’t said anything more about retiring because he isn’t going to? I think he was hurting when he said it, now he can’t unsay it. I look for Calvin to be back in a Lions uniform next season (maybe in limited fashion) but there nonetheless, and maybe a couple years after that as well (if he can get his knees and ankles healthy. I also look for the Lions to win the NFC north. Why would Calvin want to leave the Lions anyway, they have been nothing but good to him, and they made the playoffs 2 out 4 seasons. and were a couple of bad calls away from making it again last season. This team has as much a chance as any team in the NFL right now! Calvin is a Lion for life! and I’m sure he wants nothing more than to do what’s best for the Lions. I think it’s very unfair to put all these hypotheticals out there, but this is the offseason and you’ll have that.

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