It’s been in the air for a while, but if Calvin Johnson and Marshawn Lynch both act out on their intentions to retire, it’ll leave both the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks with big holes to fill in terms of production and influence.
Lynch hasn’t said anything that has made ESPN fill its headlines with breakout news like Johnson, which is something the Lions aren’t denying, but there’s nothing settled now. As with Lynch, who is considering his next step while trying to decide what his future holds, the same can be said of Johnson. He feels tired and banged up after nine seasons in the NFL, in which he took a lot of punishment because of his style. He played the 2015 season knowing it’s going to be his last, but he still hasn’t made it official, and maybe will change his mind at some point.
Both the Lions and the Seahawks need the two to make a decision. Free agency begins in a month, and with the whole cap effects and then the draft coming up, teams need to know where they stand. This is especially true for Johnson, who is going to have a $24 million cap hit next season. Some think that having to rework his deal isn’t giving him more motivation to stick around but he is leaving a lot of money on the table regardless. If he does retire, he also owes the Lions back $3.2 million in bonus money. Johnson is signed until 2019, with a $21.3 million cap hit in 2017, $17 million cap hit in 2018 and $18.25 million cap hit in 2019.
There aren’t big sums involved in comparison to Johnson with Lynch, who has two seasons left on his deal. There’s a $11.5 million cap hit next season for Lynch, which the Seahawks might also try to rework is he stays after Lynch played in just 7 games last season, finishing with 417 yards and three touchdowns. In 2017 the cap hit number is $12.5 million the end of the two-year contract extension he signed in 2015.
While Johnson has fallen off in his production since 2012 (1964 yards on 122 receptions) and keeps missing games with mostly ankle problems, he’s still quite the formidable pass catcher and the best thing in the Detroit offense. He finished with 88 receptions for 1214 yards and nine touchdowns last season. His 75.9 yards per game is his lowest since the 2011 season, and his career average of 86.1 is second best all-time, although he’ll have the benefit of retiring a lot sooner than most of the guys at the top of that list.
Lynch has been in the NFL since 2007, playing for the Buffalo Bills until 2010, when he switched to the Seattle Seahawks, winning a Super Bowl two years later. He’s a five time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, rushing for at least 1200 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011 through the 2014 seasons. Johnson is a six-time Pro Bowl selection, making the first-team All-Pro three times in his career.