According to ESPN, Johnson previously told his family and a close circles of friend that 2015 would be his final season of football. The day after the season ended, Johnson reportedly told coach Jim Caldwell the same thing.
Per the report, Caldwell told Johnson not to rush his decision, and to take some time with it. Johnson agreed to do that.
If Johnson indeed retires, he’ll owe the Lions $3.2 million in previously paid signing bonus money. (And if anyone thinks the Lions won’t recover that money, they should ask Barry Sanders for his opinion on that specific dynamic.)
If Johnson waits until the start of free agency, the Lions will have to account for his $24 million cap number, which means that the Lions possibly would cut him. Not only would that absolve him of any repayment obligation, but it also would allow him to continue his career with a team other than the Lions, if he so desires.
The Lions may want Johnson to continue playing, but not at that cap number, or at a salary of nearly $16 million. He isn’t the guy he used to be, in large part due to the pounding he has taken. Still, if Johnson is truly finished, he needs to use that looming cap number as leverage to keep the $3.2 million.
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