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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Awaiting cap impact of Calvin Johnson deal

By Kevin Seifert

One of the NFC North's most important issues has been resolved. The Detroit Lions have announced a seven-year contract extension with receiver Calvin Johnson, ending a two-month discussion about his unique situation and the heavy burden it had placed on the Lions' salary cap structure.

Johnson
The full numbers are not yet in, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the total value is worth $132 million over the course of the next eight seasons with almost half -- $60 million -- in guarantees. That makes it the richest deal ever handed out in the NFL, according to Schefter, exceeding the eight-year, $120 million deal the Arizona Cardinals gave Larry Fitzgerald last summer. Fitzgerald's deal included almost $50 million in guarantees. Johnson is one of the league's best players, but the size of the deal speaks to the leverage he had in this situation.

A key detail unresolved at the moment is how much the extension will lower what had been a $22 million cap hit for Johnson. As we discussed in January, that figure made these negotiations difficult because Johnson would have been eligible for a $26.4 million franchise tag in 2013.

We'll sift through the numbers when we get them. The Lions have called a 1 p.m. ET news conference to discuss the deal. But for now, it's probably safe to assume the Lions have more salary cap space now than they had when you woke up Wednesday morning. (Assuming you didn't sleep until 11 a.m.) More in a bit.