Since the end of the season, and even before that, some Patriots fans have been clamoring for the team to acquire a legitimate deep-threat wide receiver. They don't really have a guy who is big, fast and who can stretch the field consistently.
In a nutshell, that was Brandon LaFell last year, but he fell off a cliff this year due to what I assume was him not fully recovering from a foot injury that kept him out until Week 7.
LaFell's future with the team may be in doubt, and the Patriots may want to look into improving at the receiver position. Couple that with the fact that Calvin Johnson is reportedly going to retire at the end of next season, and you may have something here, no?
I'm not going to shoot down the possibility, but I just don't know how realistic the possibility is. Two big things that link Johnson to the Patriots is that he's an older player, and the Pats love taking chances on players like that in hopes they can get something out of them for a year or two. Corey Dillon and Rodney Harrison and Randy Moss (to a lesser extent) come to mind. The other is that the Lions are more than likely not going to be a contender next year and the Patriots will be.
Johnson, 30, isn't the player he used to be, and his regression was well documented this season. He isn't a shell of himself yet, however. The biggest problem for any team that may want to explore acquiring him is that he carries a $24 million cap hit for next season. So the Patriots would have to try and rework his deal.
If former teammate and current NFL Network analyst Nate Burleson's words hold any weight, Johnson would likely be willing to restructure his contract if he were to be traded to a team that can't afford his current cap hit.
“If I could lean on something, it’s not about a power play, it’s not about coaching, it’s not about money. I can guarantee anybody at home Calvin doesn’t care about the money,” said Burleson. “If he’s considering retiring, he’s concerned about his body and how much he can keep that up and play at a high level like he has been.
He added: “People look at him and say he has an ankle, he has a knee—he’s had those things for the last five, six years. He’s just one of the toughest guys you know because he never talks about it. A true introvert, a true professional that never talks about his injuries.”
There was also the idea that Johnson could retire, then back out of it and sign with another team. However, Johnson is still under contract with the Lions until 2019. So that means if he came back, it'd be with Detroit.
All of this being said, it'd be interesting to see what the Lions would ask for in return for their aging star. The case for Johnson going to New England could be helped by the fact that that Bob Quinn, former Patriots scouting director, is now Detroit's general manager.
What is Johnson worth at this stage? In 2007, the Patriots acquired Moss from the Oakland Raiders for a fourth-round pick that ended up being cornerback John Bowie. Who? Exactly.
Could Megatron be had for something similar? The thought of him catching passes from Tom Brady is incredibly tantalizing, even at this stage of his career.
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