Lions plan to announce Megatron mega-extension today

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The Lions’ No. 1 priority in free agency is making sure their most talented player stays in Detroit for the prime of his career without becoming a free agent. And they’re getting close to getting that done.

Anwar Richardson of MLive.com reports that the Lions are close to announcing a seven-year contract extension for wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron is on the way to Detroit and both sides are hoping to get it done in time for an announcement today.

Although no financial terms are known, the deal would likely surpass Larry Fitzgerald’s contract with the Cardinals and make Johnson the highest-paid receiver in NFL history.

No matter how much the Lions are paying Johnson, the deal will surely give them some cap relief this season. Johnson’s cap number for 2012 surpasses $21 million, and that cap number is a big part of the reason the Lions aren’t making any noise in free agency. They simply don’t have the cap space.

And the deal also puts the Lions in better shape a year from now, when they’d be faced with either tagging him with an enormous franchise tender of more than $25 million, or letting him become an unrestricted free agent.

So for Johnson, it will surely be an enormous contract. For the Lions, it will be a contract whose cap effect is felt mostly a few years down the road, when the new TV contracts are expected to expand the salary cap significantly. This is good news all around in Detroit.