Team president Rod Wood told reporters Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Boca Rotan, Florida, that Johnson did not indicate to him during their discussions he would want to return to the league to play for another team.
“He certainly did not and the way things stand right now, he’s a Detroit Lion,” Wood said. “It would have to be something that we would mutually agree to but he did not indicate that in the least.”
Wood would not confirm how much of Johnson’s signing bonus the star receiver decided to return. He has already given back $320,000 of that bonus and it is unclear if he will make more payments or if that will be Johnson’s only reimbursement to the club.
The Lions have signed Marvin Jones and Jeremy Kerley to try and help ease Johnson’s loss and general manager Bob Quinn told the team’s website it will be a “team effort” to replace the production spread among receivers Jones and Golden Tate, the tight ends and running backs.
But how would the Lions handle a situation where Johnson decided to play again and said he wanted to be a receiver somewhere other than Detroit?
“First of all, I’d be very surprised,” Wood said. “And if he wanted to do that, it would be something he would have to discuss with us, but I’m not expecting it.”
Johnson said in his retirement statement he had played his final game of football. He retired with 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. He becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2021 along with Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning.