For five years, Calvin Johnson has thrilled Detroit Lions fans, helping the city’s troubled NFL franchise recover from almost unimaginable depths to become one of the league’s most exciting young teams.
Now the Lions are rewarding the star receiver, giving “Megatron’’ a contract worthy of his catchy nickname.
Johnson signed an eight-year deal worth up to $132 million Wednesday, the largest contract in NFL history. He had a year remaining on a deal he signed after being drafted in 2007, but this extension starts immediately and runs through the 2019 season.
“I’m so comfortable here now,’’ the 26-year-old Johnson said. “At first, not at all, but being here for five years, being around these people here in Detroit, teammates and just the city - I’m just growing accustomed to it.’’
Johnson’s agent, Bus Cook, said the contract is worth $60 million guaranteed. That figure and the total value of the deal are both NFL records.
The 6-foot-5-inch Johnson is a two-time Pro Bowler and his 45 touchdowns receiving are the most in the NFL since 2008.
His deal tops one given to receiver Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona last year - an eight-year deal that could pay him as much as $120 million.
Bucs add Nicks
The revamped Buccaneers signed All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright to five-year contracts. Nicks was one of the key blockers for Drew Brees on the Saints’ record-setting offense, making the Pro Bowl the last two seasons. Wright was with the Lions last season . . . Former 1,000-yard rusher Peyton Hillis is getting a fresh start in Kansas City after a drama- and injury-filled second season in Cleveland after rushing for 1,177 yards in 2010. Terms of the deal weren’t immediately disclosed. Hillis rushed for just 587 yards last season . . . The Rams’ first move in free agency was reuniting Jeff Fisher, who coached Cortland Finnegan for five seasons in Tennessee, with the feisty, productive cornerback. Finnegan agreed to terms on a five-year, $50 million contract with $27 million guaranteed and $33 million coming in the first three seasons . . . Cornerback Carlos Rogers agreed on a $31.3 million, four-year contract to stay with the 49ers, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.
Eagles sign Jackson
DeSean Jackson agreed to a five-year contract with the Eagles worth $51 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because terms weren’t officially announced. The two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver already was tagged as the franchise player, meaning he would’ve earned at least $9.4 million next season. Now, he gets the long-term security he sought last year when he held out of training camp. The Eagles also agreed on a four-year extension with defensive end Trent Cole . . . The Cowboys upgraded their secondary and got a veteran backup quarterback. Cornerback Brandon Carr agreed to a five-year deal, and quarterback Kyle Orton to a three-year contract to be Tony Romo’s backup. Both played in Kansas City last season. Dallas also announced the signings of unrestricted free agent offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau, the former Bentley standout from Waltham, to a four-year deal and fullback Lawrence Vickers for two years . . . The Jaguars and free agent wide receiver Laurent Robinson agreed to a five-year, $32.5 million contract, including $14 million guaranteed, and re-signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey . . . A person familiar with the negotiations said Dolphins nose tackle Paul Soliai signed a $12 million, two-year contract to remain with the team . . . The Seahawks released offensive lineman Robert Gallery after one injury-filled season and had former standout lineman Steve Hutchinson in for a visit. Free agent quarterback Matt Flynn is scheduled to visit Thursday. Hutchinson left after the 2005 season following a bitter contract dispute, playing the last six seasons with the Vikings.
Titans, Manning talk
The Titans made their pitch to Peyton Manning and the quarterback left the team’s headquarters after spending 6 1/2 hours inside. No decision was announced, and the next move appears to be up to the four-time NFL MVP. It was unclear if Manning flew back to North Carolina Wednesday night, but if the big smile coach Mike Munchak had on his face as he and Manning were leaving was any indication, things went well . . . Less than a day after the Bears traded for Brandon Marshall, the Pro Bowl receiver with a history of off-the-field problems was accused in yet another incident. New York City police said a woman filed a complaint alleging Marshall punched her in the face at a nightclub over the weekend. Marshall has not been charged in the incident . . . The Chargers re-signed left tackle Jared Gaither to a four-year contract and signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Jarret Johnson, formerly of the Ravens, to a four-year deal. The Chargers also gave fullback Le’Ron McClain a three-year deal. He was with Kansas City last season . . . Injury-plagued tight end John Carlson signed a five-year deal with the Vikings . . . The Colts signed free agent defensive end Cory Redding to help anchor Indianapolis’s conversion of a 3-4 defense . . . The Bears agreed to a three-year contract with special teams star Eric Weems, who spent his first five seasons with Atlanta and was the NFC’s special-teams selection for the Pro Bowl in 2010 . . . The Super Bowl-champion Giants signed tight end Martellus Bennett, a backup in four seasons in Dallas.