Calvin Johnson appears to have made a decision regarding his future in the NFL. The Detroit Lions created headlines when he released a statement saying he was considering all of his options heading into 2016 while hinting that retirement was a real possibility. At 30 years old, that was shocking to many considering Johnson remains one of the best receivers in the league. While many hoped it was not true, Johnson is reportedly calling it a career.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Johnson has informed head coach Jim Caldwell that he has played his last season in the NFL and will be retiring. According to Schefter, Caldwell had asked Johnson to give it some time and really think about the move, but it appears the receiver to be done with football. Schefter writes that the Lions are still hoping Johnson changes his mind, but sources believe he is content with the decision. After being banged up with injuries in 2015 plus rumors of a release due to contracts, Johnson has opted to head into retirement regardless of his young age.
The absence of Johnson means the Lions must make the receiver position a priority in the draft and in free agency. Heading into the offseason, the Lions have Golden Tate and TJ Jones as their best receiving options along with Eric Ebron at the tight end spot. That will not be enough to replace the role of Johnson on the field who is the all-team leader of the franchise with 11,619 receiving yards in nine years in the league.
According to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, the Lions could try to make a move for Alshon Jeffery who is preparing to be a free agent with the Chicago Bears. Jeffery is looking to get paid like Julio Jones and Dez Bryant did last season. The Bears have remained coy about their intentions to retain the receiver which could option the door for Detroit. The chances are very slim the Lions get Jeffery as the Bears have a franchise tag, but it could present itself as an option. Rishard Matthews, Marvin Jones, Jermaine Kearse and Travis Benjamin remain the other best free agent options for the Lions.
Detroit has the No.16 in the NFL Draft. The best receiver available is Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss. The chances he falls to No.16 is slim. If Detroit likes the receiver who put up 1,153 yards in 2015 they would have to move up to get him. Treadwell could be the best fix for Detroit in the long-term outlook. Will Fuller from Notre Dame could be an option at No.16, but he is not a guarantee like Treadwell is expected to be.