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Monday, March 5, 2012
Johnson deal done, Bills can shift focus

By James Walker

The Buffalo Bills announced Monday morning that they reached a contract extension with receiver Steve Johnson. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the contract is worth $36.25 million over five years.

The $7.25 million average per season seems about right for a receiver of Johnson's caliber. He is a good receiver but not an elite, game-breaking talent in the mold of Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.

Steve Johnson gets a sizable extension, which includes $19.5 million guaranteed, while the Bills signed him at a price they were comfortable with. Both sides should be happy.

The Bills, who run a spread offense, would have been in big trouble if they couldn't retain their leading receiver. Buffalo has had a hard time recruiting big-name free agents in the past, and there was no guarantee the Bills would land Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe or any other top receiver capable of replacing Johnson's production. Johnson, 26, is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

So Buffalo took the safe route by re-signing Johnson and now can shift its focus to other needs. The Bills finished 6-10 last season and could use upgrades at cornerback, left tackle and an outside pass-rusher.

The Bills entered the offseason with a decent amount of cap room. General manager Buddy Nix said the team would spend to the cap and this was a good first step.