ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions have made Calvin Johnson the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, signing the star known as Megatron to a new eight-year contract worth up to $132 million.
The team announced the signing Wednesday, the second day of NFL free agency. The player’s agent, Bus Cook, said the deal is worth $60 million guaranteed if Johnson plays all eight years through the 2019 season.
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“This kind of deal doesn’t come around too often,” Cook said. “He’s the best.”
It is one of the richest deals in the league and tops the one given to Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald last year, an eight-year deal that could pay him as much as $120 million, with $50 million guaranteed.
Johnson, a five-year veteran, is a two-time Pro Bowler and his 45 touchdowns receiving are the most in the NFL since 2008. He signed a six-year deal worth up to $64 million after Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2007, and was entering the final year of a contract that was scheduled to cost the Lions $20-plus million against their salary cap.
He is coming off a spectacular season in which he helped Detroit earn a spot in the postseason for the first time since the 1999 season after doing what only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and former NFL star Randy Moss have done. Rice, Moss and Johnson are the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Johnson gives the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford a deep threat like few other teams have.
Johnson led the league with 1,681 yards receiving, putting him behind Rice’s total in 1995 and ahead of Moss’ in 2003. Johnson scored 16 times, once more than Rice did in his most spectacular season and one fewer than Moss during the best year of his career.
Johnson didn’t just produce this past season. He’s one of six receivers in league history with at least 45 TD catches and 5,000 yards receiving in a four-season span, putting him on a short list that also includes Rice, Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Lance Alworth.
In the playoffs, he piled up 12 receptions for 211 yards and 2 TDs in a loss to New Orleans — the first player in NFL history to have 200 receiving yards in a playoff debut.