Deion Sanders: Lions’ Johnson shouldn’t take pay cut

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

San Francisco — Before Calvin Johnson’s consideration of retirement became public knowledge about a month ago, the expectation was that the Lions would try to get Johnson to reduce the $24 million cap hit he had in 2016.

Deion Sanders hasn’t spoken to Calvin Johnson recently, so he doesn’t have any inside information. But, if that is the Lions’ plan, the Hall of Fame cornerback thinks it’s ridiculous.

“If Calvin comes back, you’re going to ask him to take a pay cut, right?” Sanders said Thursday during an NFL Network event at the Super Bowl Media Center. “You didn’t ask the quarterback to take a pay cut. Don’t you think that upsets Calvin?”

“Let’s just think about that for a moment. Let’s just ponder that thought and just think about one of the … things that attributes to Calvin walking away from the game. He is responsible for the quarterback even making what he makes.”

At the Senior Bowl last week, Johnson’s agent Bus Cook said the Lions hadn’t contacted him about restructuring the contract. Johnson’s current deal pays him an average salary of $16.2 million while Matthew Stafford has an average salary of $17.7 million, according to

“But you’re going to ask Calvin, the only thing they’re coming into that stadium to see, to take a pay cut after he’s been the most consistent thing and the only thing they’ve had in years? And you ask him to take a pay cut but you don’t ask your quarterback? I would walk away, too.”

Many people close to Johnson have said his decision has nothing to do with money. Instead, Johnson considering retirement is mostly related to health concerns as he’s had myriad injuries in recent years.

However, Johnson’s former teammate Nate Burleson said the Lions should be doing more than they have so far to show how much they appreciate Johnson if they hope to have him play in 2016.

Meanwhile, Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin thinks Johnson should take more time to think about his decision because he’d “hate for the league to lose a talent and a person of his caliber at such an early age.”

“That blows my mind that two of the greatest to ever play our game played in Detroit and decided to walk away while they still had stuff in them,” Irvin said. “It must be just a tough thing to wake up every day and go to work in Detroit looking at what’s around you and then doing what they’re doing and not winning football games. It must just be a tough thing. I would think it only happened in Cleveland, but I see it’s happening in Detroit.”