Calvin Johnson is walking away from the NFL after nine record-setting seasons with the Detroit Lions.
The star wide receiver known as Megatron announced his retirement Tuesday morning through a statement released by the Lions. He also filed his retirement papers with the league.
“After much prayer, thought and discussion with loved ones, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the Lions and pro football. I have played my last game of football,” Johnson stated.
Johnson, 30, announced in January that he was going to take some time before deciding on whether to play a 10th season. He will now be forever linked with another Lions great, running back Barry Sanders, who retired before the 1999 season just after his 31st birthday.
Drafted second overall by Detroit in 2007, Johnson had more than 1,000 yards receiving in seven of his nine seasons. He set a league record with 1,964 yards receiving during the 2012 season.
Johnson finishes with 731 receptions, 11,619 yards receiving and 83 touchdown catches, all franchise records. He caught a pass in every game he played for the Lions (135, also a team record).
Like Sanders, Johnson is leaving the game while still a valued player. Last season, Johnson caught 88 passes for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns.
Also like Sanders, Johnson was unable to bring Detroit a championship. The Lions made the playoffs only twice during the Megatron era and lost their first game both times.
“To the fans of Detroit and Michigan, I so appreciated your passionate support over the years and truly enjoyed playing for you,” Johnson stated. “I loved playing in Detroit and will forever be a Lion. My biggest regret is that I wasn’t able to help give our fans a championship.”
Broncos lose Jackson
A day after quarterback Peyton Manning announced his retirement, the Denver Broncos lost another key piece when defensive end Malik Jackson, a key performer in their championship season, agreed to terms on a six-year deal with Jacksonville worth up to $90 million and including $42 million guaranteed. Free-agent deals can’t be finalized until Wednesday. Jackson had 129 tackles, 14 sacks and two forced fumbles in his last three seasons. Denver also released three players who helped it win the Super Bowl: tight end Owen Daniels, guard Louis Vasquez and long snapper Aaron Brewer.
Bills keep Incognito
Buffalo is bringing back guard Richie Incognito, who took less money to remain with the team he says “saved me.” Incognito, who was a central figure in the Miami Dolphins’ 2013 bullying scandal and was out of football for 15 months, agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract with the Bills. “I went from a guy nobody wanted to getting redeemed by Buffalo, and I owe them a lot,” he said. “You can’t put a price tag on that.”
Citing unfinished business, free agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said he and the New York Giants have agreed to terms on a new contract. The popular pass rusher who had 16 1/2 sacks in 2011 was limited to one sack in the final eight games last year, after a July 4 fireworks accident cost him his right index finger and sidelined him for the first half of the schedule.
Oakland landed its top target in free agency, agreeing in principle with former Baltimore offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele on a five-year deal that could be worth up to $60 million. . . . Indianapolis agreed to bring back kicker Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s oldest player at 43 and a four-time Super Bowl champion who holds career postseason records for points (234), field goals (56) and extra points (66). The Colts also cut linebacker Bjoern Werner, their 2013 first-round pick who had just 6 1/2 sacks in 38 games since being drafted 24th overall. . . . Minnesota released underperforming receiver Mike Wallace after one season to clear $11.5 million from the salary cap. . . . A person with knowledge of negotiations told Associated Press that New England has picked up the option that will keep 26-year-old Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski with the Patriots through 2019. . . . Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery signed his franchise tag tender for $14.6 million. The Bears have until July 15 to agree to a multiyear contract with Jeffery, who was limited to nine games last season because of injuries. . . . Former Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin agreed to a two-year contract with Philadelphia. . . . Pittsburgh cornerback William Gay agreed to a three-year deal to remain with the Steelers. . . . Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had shoulder surgery and should be ready for off-season workouts when they start in May, the Cowboys said. The procedure was on the left collarbone that he broke twice last season. . . . Drew Stanton agreed to terms on a two-year deal to remain Arizona’s backup quarterback. . . . San Francisco signed linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong to a one-year contract extension through next season. . . . Veteran linebacker Tamba Hali, at 32 coming off his fifth straight Pro Bowl season, agreed to a three-year contract to stay in Kansas City. . . . The brain of former Chiefs safety Caesar Belser, who died of lung cancer last weekend, will be donated to science to help research into a degenerative brain condition, his family said. Belser played for the Chiefs from 1968 to 1971.
The Associated Press contributed to this report