At the moment, all signs are pointing to Calvin Johnson retiring from the NFL. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Johnson informed head coach Jim Caldwell that he has played his last season in the league, but was told to give it a little more time to come to a clear decision. Johnson has opted to hold off out of respect which has the Lions believing they might be able to get him to come back for another year or two under a new contract.
The Lions have gone from potentially releasing Johnson because of his salary cap hit to begging for his return following a decision of retirement. The Lions know they need Johnson to be in contention in 2016. According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, the Lions are going to try and convince Johnson to return by offering him a contract extension similar to what Larry Fitzgerald signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Right now, Johnson would be a $15.95 million salary cap hit at his current contract status. The Lions could get Johnson signed to a deal that reduces his salary, but makes it all fully guaranteed.
It is unclear if Johnson wants to play anymore or not. The receiver was not happy with all of the reports that the Lions would release him. However, Rapoport reports that he has already called owner Martha Ford to thank her for everything while also informing coaches and friends that things were done for him. The Lions can do all of the enticing they want, but if Johnson has made up his mind than that is that.
New general manager Bob Quinn told the media that he would like a definitive decision from Johnson prior to free agency beginning so the team can make plans to replace him or retain him. Without Johnson, Golden Tate and TJ Jones are the best of the roster. According to Michael Rothstein of ESPN, Alshon Jeffery could be a target for the Lions along with a trade of DeSean Jackson. Outside of those two options, the Lions would be looking at Travis Benjamin, Rishard Matthews or Marvin Jones.
The Lions could also select a player in the draft, but their current position leaves them out of the running for Laquon Treadwell. They could take a chance on Braxton Miller while Will Fuller and Josh Doctson come highly rated as awell. It is clear the Lions first choice is to bring Johnson back. If they can convince the receiver to play another year, they could target his replacement in the NFL Draft with the idea that he develops under Johnson for another season or two.