Quinn to give Lions’ Johnson time to decide future

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Will Calvin Johnson return next season or call it a career?

As new Lions executive vice president and general manager Bob Quinn gets to work on evaluating and shaping the team’s roster, persuading Johnson to not retire will be among Quinn’s top priorities.

“I have a great deal of respect for Calvin. He’s an outstanding player,” Quinn said during his introductory news conference Monday afternoon. “I know he put out a statement a week or two ago, I think we’re going to stay with that statement right now.

“When the time and the place is ready, I will definitely get in touch with Calvin.”

Transcript: Bob Quinn�s introductory news conference

Johnson released a statement on Jan. 6 mulling the decision to hang up his cleats, stating he was “evaluating options” for his future and expected to have a decision in the “not-too-distant future.”

Quinn said he has not yet spoken with Johnson, the Lions all-time leading receiver in career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

“I found over my experience in the National Football League that the couple weeks after the regular season is over is not the time to push a player in to staying or going,” Quinn said.

“This is a long season, a tough game, so I’m not in the position to put any pressure on Calvin Johnson. I’m not going to do that.”

Quinn added, though, that he plans on speaking with Johnson, quarterback Matthew Stafford and possibly other Lions players over the next couple of days as part of his decision whether to retain head coach Jim Caldwell.

Lions GM Quinn: No decision yet on Caldwell

Johnson finished 2015 with 88 receptions for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns despite dealing with an ankle injury the second half of the season.

The nine-year pro ranks 22nd in NFL history with 83 receiving touchdowns and 27th in receiving yards with 11,619.

Johnson, who has dealt with an array of injuries in recent years, is set to make $16 million in base salary and will have a $24 million cap hit in 2016. If Johnson retired, though, he would still have a cap hit of roughly $13 million in 2016.

James Hawkins is a freelance writer