In less than a week, Calvin Johnson and his relationship with the Oakland Raiders has gone from workout buddy to potential teammate. The Oakland Raiders can trade for Calvin Johnson as soon as they decide if they are driving that path again. One Negative Nancy didn’t think the addition could happen, but Megatron might make the move.
The Oakland Raiders Can Trade For Calvin Johnson
Recall 18 years ago when Hall of Famer Barry Sanders abruptly retired from football in the summer of 1999. In February after that summer, Sanders was forced to pay back $1.8 million of his $11 million bonus. The Lions sought all of it at first and “compromised” for $5.5 million. Sanders was willing to give that amount back if the team released him from the three years left on his deal.
Along with making bad football decisions, the Detroit Lions committed two moral crimes. They demanded bonus money back from their franchise’s two biggest stars, and didn’t allow them to seek success elsewhere. The bonus money incidents look even worse since the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks waived their right to claim $5 million from Tony Romo and Marshawn Lynch. Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson have parallel situations of poor franchise management. However, the blame does not just lie on the team.
Judge Calvin Johnson’s Actions
No matter how anyone attempts to spin it, Calvin Johnson is a quitter. Barry Sanders is as well. They either weren’t tough enough, or they didn’t love the game like they needed to stick it out with their franchise. If the team had been better, neither Sanders nor Johnson would have retired, and the two athletes are scrutinized for that fact.
A possible return to football has been on Calvin Johnson’s mind at least since the end of May. Megatron made an appearance at the Raiders’ OTAs and generated comeback buzz for a week. That talk was shut down for over a month but brought back into the news recently.
Calvin Johnson gave high praise to Derek Carr and compared him to big names Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. He also might have revealed his reasons for leaving the Lions had more to do with losing than the injuries and wear on his body. The Raiders surely see it from his point of view after 13 seasons of Detroit Lions results. Calvin Johnson is nicknamed after the leader of the Decepticons, but he’s not a villain.
Trade for Value
The Oakland Raiders can get Calvin Johnson, but they will have to pay. Marshawn Lynch and Johnson had similar reasons for retiring. Lynch’s injuries and struggles chiseled at his passion for football. Fortunately, he rediscovered the love of the game through his hometown team, and the Seattle Seahawks were willing to give him up. Megatron also lost his desire to play because of injuries, but the losing took years from him as well.
The Raiders and Calvin Johnson each face a decision that wasn’t present before the beginning of this week. Megatron can force the Lions’ hand by un-retiring. If Johnson steps back into the scene, the Lions will owe him about $12 million a year until 2019. A release is possible but unlikely.
The most plausible conclusion is Calvin Johnson traded to the Raiders. There is little chance he comes out of retirement without a guarantee that he will be in Oakland. The Lions could flirt with trading him to other teams, but the quickest solution to that would be retiring again.
The facts to be considered in a trade make up a lengthy list. Calvin Johnson’s age, health, past production, salary all make up his trade value. Johnson’s salary would make him the second highest paid wide receiver at almost 32 years old and two years out of retirement. The age is concerning, but in 2015 he caught 88 passes for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns. He also put up his third highest catch percentage in a season
The Seattle Seahawks acquired the Oakland Raiders’ 2018 fifth round pick and gave up their 2018 sixth round pick with Marshawn Lynch. The terms for a Calvin Johnson trade are more complicated but the difference in cost isn’t that much. The Raiders shouldn’t have to give up anything with a higher price tag than a 3rd round pick.
Calvin + Cooper + Crabtree + Cook
In 2016, Tom Brady threw only one more red zone touchdowns than Carr, but his completion percentage was about 20 points higher, 67.19% compared to Carr’s 47.83%. Brady has a ton of experience as an edge, but he also had tight end Martelleus Bennett and Beast Mode-Lite a.k.a. LeGarrette Blount. Bennett caught five red zone touchdowns while Blount scored every red zone rushing touchdown at 16.
The Oakland Raiders don’t need Calvin Johnson. The red zone is one of the last features of their offense to perfect, but they don’t need him. Last season Derek Carr threw 19 red zone touchdowns, tied for sixth best in the league. The Raiders scored well, but they were not elite. Adding Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jared Cook will help Carr take a step into the highest tier of quarterbacks.
Megatron can help too. The Raiders are prepared cto play championship level red zone offense already, then add Calvin Johnson in there to form a wide receiver trio with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree? Reggie McKenzie has to know how filthy the Oakland Raiders would be in touchdown territory.
The Raiders haven’t worked with Calvin Johnson for long. As much as they know about Calvin Johnson, what do they not know? There may or may not be more to his comments, but his stance is clear. Megatron wants out and there’s still the possibility he forces the Detroit Lions’ hand. Stay tuned for the inevitable “Calvin Johnson to the Oakland Raiders” update if he does.