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(KIRTHMON F. DOZIER/Detroit Free Press)

Detroit Lions first-round draft pick Calvin Johnson signs autographs after the morning training camp session on Friday, Aug. 3, at the Allen Park facility.

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(KIRTHMON F. DOZIER/Detroit Free Press)

Detroit Lions first-round draft pick Calvin Johnson signs autographs after the morning training camp session on Friday, Aug. 3, at the Allen Park facility.

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Photo Detroit Lions sign Calvin Johnson


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Nicholas J. Cotsonika's blog

Lions sign WR Johnson

The Lions signed wide receiver Calvin Johnson to a six-year contract about 8 a.m. today, and Johnson took the field for the Lions’ 8:35 a.m. practice.

The deal makes Johnson, the second overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, the highest-paid player in Lions history, according to a report on NFL.com.

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It has a maximum value of $64 million, and it includes almost $27.2 million guaranteed and another $4.5 million in bonuses Johnson should earn by the middle of the season if he sees even a minimum amount of playing time, according to NFL.com.

Johnson jumped right in with the first team this morning, even during the two-minute drill. He caught a pass over the middle.

“I kind of expected it,” Johnson said. “They brought me out here for that purpose. They didn’t pick me as high as they did for no reason, so I expected to be going in there with the ones.”

Johnson’s arrival coincided with the first practice the Lions have opened to the general public since they moved training camp to their Allen Park headquarters in 2002.

At first, no one noticed Johnson. But then the fans – some wearing new No. 81 jerseys – started cheering. During stretching, offensive lineman Barry Stokes yelled to the crowd: “Can we get a round of applause for Calvin Johnson?”

Though he went second overall, Johnson was widely considered the best player in the draft. He is expected to make a big impact as a rookie, not just with the balls he catches, but with how his presence opens up things for his teammates.

Johnson said he was comfortable with the expectations for him.

“I know they’re real high, actually,” Johnson said. “That’s why I’m trying not to worry about that, just focus on what I’ve got to do on the field and everything will come.”

Told ESPN.com had already tabbed him as a future Hall of Famer, he laughed.

“That’s crazy,” he said. “That’s their job. Hopefully I come out here throughout my career and prove them right.”

While Johnson missed the first eight days of practices, his agent and the Lions negotiated the contract. Johnson waited at home near Atlanta and in the Detroit area, lifting weights, running and swimming. He looked at the schedule and saw the Lions’ first exhibition looming Thursday against Cincinnati.

“At first I was patient with it,” Johnson said. “I kind of understood what was going on. But then it kind of got a little nerve-racking, especially since the first game was coming up in a week. I just wanted to kind of get out here as soon as possible.”

People around town kept asking Lions chief operating officer Tom Lewand about Johnson – a guy at Starbucks, a guy at a gas station. Lewand’s wife tried to pay for something with a credit card Thursday, and the person asked if she was related to Tom and how negotiations were going.

Talks picked up early this week, but the sides haggled over the structure of the contract. Lewand said the sides worked late into the night Wednesday and Thursday. Lewand said the last e-mail the Lions received from Johnson’s agent, Bus Cook, came in around 2 a.m. today.

“We just kept working at it and working at it,” Lewand said. “We were able to really find some common ground in the last couple of days and work towards resolving a lot of the complexities of the contract.”

Johnson said he arrived at Lions headquarters a little before 7 a.m. today. The Lions’ medical staff gave him a quick look. He signed the contract about 8 a.m. and then he took the field.

“Would I like to have seen in done days ago?” Lewand said. “Yes. But we’re happy it is done and now we can get on to talking about Calvin Johnson’s prowess on the field and how he’s going to help us win football games instead of how much money he’s going to make.”

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555

Yippee! Now what? The Lions win maybe 3 instead of 2 games? Big whoop-dee-doo.

Losers.

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:37 am


trabian

Groovy. The kid is signed. Now we need to find something else to blather about.

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 7:15 pm


dman

its funny how easily ford and millen suck in you slappies !! all it takes is to leak out a couple of stories of amazing feats taking place at camp.

Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:25 pm


kweb76

Sorry dude about the Williams mixup. Embarassed I'm out in Idaho. We don't get our stories straight all the time 'cause we smokin' the good stuff. Confused

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:21 pm


Bob M.

I have watched the Lions since Joe Schmidt was a middle linebacker, Head Coach and made the HoF. One player does not make for a great team. Just ask Joe Schmidt. The Lions have had their up and down seasons for 50 years or since 1957 whichever comes first. If they want to win games they had better start now. They can only speak for themselves and perform as coached. I'm not expecting greatness from the Lions but I do think they are improving. Can they pull off a play-off game? After the 5th week of this season and on their bye week I'll have all the information I need. So I'll just stay calm, cool and collected until I can rant and rave again which is usually around week 9 or 10. What I've really learned to enjoy is when TV re-plays Lions mistakes on the field. That's when my blood pressure goes up or lose my sense of intelligence. Still I hope the Lions restore whatever roar they got left. Go Lions!

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:20 pm


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