Call it outlets looking for a story in the dead days of summer or a legitimate prospect, former All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson coming out of retirement is now being floated around as a possibility.
In a press conference he held while at the Italy Bowl, the Italian version of the Super Bowl, Johnson explained why he retired at the early age of 30, bring up painful Barry Sanders memories for Detroit Lions fans.
“”I was stuck in my contract with Detroit, and they told me, they would not release my contract, so I would have to come back to them,” Johnson said. “I didn’t see the chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall and not going anywhere.”
In other words, he could’ve kept playing but just didn’t see the point. When a player essentially openly admits he still has some football left in him, even a year after last being on the field, the next question that comes to mind is “will he come back?”
It’s a fair question especially coming off running back Marshawn Lynch’s own decision to come out of retirement to join his hometown team the Oakland Raiders after the team posted its best record since 2000 at 12-4.
Funny enough, rumors of Johnson returning have been swirling all summer after he spent time on the golf course with the Raiders’ head coach Jack Del Rio, offensive coordinator Todd Downing and quarterback Derek Carr in late May. It was on a trip in which Johnson also participated with the Raiders during an organized team activity.
Not to mention, Johnson said during the press conference that the Raiders are a team that interests him a lot due to their complete roster and a recent string of success in the draft and free agency. But above all, their quarterback.
“There’s a young cat that I just met; Derek Carr out of Oakland. I really like that guy,” Johnson said.
He also spoke out about his almost jealousness for Marshawn Lynch being able to unretire and go to the Raiders making it look like an even bigger possibility.
Unfortunately, the Lions still own Johnson’s contract and have virtually no reason to negotiate with the Raiders to give it up. That is unless the Raiders feel Johnson is the missing piece to their championship run and give up a big asset in return.
But it never hurts to speculate on Johnson’s potential return so let’s take a look at some of the potential suitors for the receiver assuming the teams have the assets necessary to convince the Lions to relinquish his rights.
Given his expressed interest in the Raiders, this will likely remain the top possibility to land Calvin Johnson from the Lions. The Raiders have become almost like their basketball counterparts in the Bay Area, the Warriors, in their already loaded roster promising a probable title run to aging vets that few other teams can offer.
Not to mention the AFC West is lacking any huge threats to the division cr
own with the Chargers defense having more holes in it than Swiss cheese, the Broncos still waiting for quarterback Paxton Lynch to develop and the Chiefs just recently letting go of their top receiver Jeremy Maclin.
The Raiders already have an absolutely loaded offense with Derek Carr earning his new $125 million contract behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree make Oakland one of the more dynamic receiving duos in the league as well. The offseason acquisitions of Lynch and tight end Jared Cook filled out the few holes remaining in the offense. Adding Johnson would just add yet another dynamic playmaker to the team.
New England Patriots
Perhaps the only team more attractive to vets who want to squeeze a title out of their last few years left in the league than Oakland is the Patriots. As long as the historic duo that is Bill Belichick and Tom Brady remain in Boston, vets especially receivers, will want to be there.
The acquisition of Brandin Cooks gives the Pats a receiver who can stretch the field but the team is still missing a proven possession receiver. Calvin Johnson would line up perfectly opposite Cooks giving the Patriots size and physicality that few, if any, of their current receivers, possess.
The Patriots don’t have the typical stockpile of picks heading into next year’s draft the team usually boasts but they are also poised to have multiple compensatory picks as well. This could prompt the team to move one of the current mid-round picks to the Lions in anticipation they’ll make it back just a few selections back later.
Kansas City Chiefs
As stated earlier, the Chiefs released their top receiver Jeremy Maclin last month leaving 5’10” second-year man Tyreek Hill as Alex Smith’s top target. In fact, only one of the Chiefs’ top four receivers is above six feet tall so the team is really hurting for some size at receiver.
Now, why would Kansas City pull the trigger on a move like this? Clearly, the team sees the end of Alex Smith imminent with the selection of Pat Mahomes in the first round but they aren’t going in full rebuilding mode either.
By trading for Calvin Johnson, not only will they have a receiver that can give Smith a target the likes of which he has never seen in his career but also one that can help mentor Mahomes from the receiver side of things.
Acquiring Johnson would help the Chiefs offense with a true and proven number one target who can help take the pressure off Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce and help compete against the Raiders.