Calvin Johnson is retiring after a 1,214-yard season, the most receiving yards in a player’s final season in NFL history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. Johnson’s 88 receptions will be the second most in a player’s final season (Sterling Sharpe - 94 in 1994).
The 30-year-old Detroit Lions wide receiver made the most of his nine seasons in the NFL. Here is a look at Johnson’s place in NFL history.
Johnson’s place in the record books
Johnson ranks 43rd in receptions (731), 27th in receiving yards (11,619) and 22nd in receiving touchdowns (83) in NFL history. His 11,619 receiving yards rank third in a player’s first nine seasons. Only Torry Holt (11,864) and Jerry Rice (11,776) had more receiving yards than Johnson through nine NFL seasons.
Since Johnson was drafted by the Lions with the second overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, no player has more receiving yards, receiving touchdowns or 100-yard games (46) than Johnson.
Among those who have played in 100 career games in NFL history, no player has averaged more receiving yards per game than Johnson. Johnson’s average of 86.1 receiving yards per game is 8.7 yards better than the next-closest player on that list (Holt).
Johnson’s combination of size and speed made him one of the most unique wide receivers in the game. “Megatron” was listed at 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds. Since 2007, only six wide receivers at least as tall and as heavy as Johnson caught a pass in the NFL. Johnson had 731 receptions and the other five combined for 200.
Johnson ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the 2007 NFL combine. He's the only player 6-foot-5 or taller, regardless of position, to run a 40-yard dash in under 4.40 seconds at the combine since 2006.
Elias notes that Johnson has the most receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in NFL history by someone who has never won a playoff game.
What’s next for the Lions
Johnson was scheduled to have a cap value of $24.1 million in 2016, $8.2 million more than the next-closest wide receiver and the fifth-highest cap value among all players. Johnson’s cap value was going to be the highest among wide receivers on current contracts in each of the next four seasons, according to Roster Management System.
Johnson has been Matthew Stafford’s go-to target over the years. Stafford, who was drafted by the Lions two years after Johnson, has completed 511 passes for 8,138 yards and 56 touchdowns to Johnson in his career. Stafford’s No. 2 target in each of those categories since 2009 is Brandon Pettigrew, who has 230 receptions for 2,213 yards and 15 touchdowns with Stafford at quarterback.
Golden Tate, who leads the Lions with 189 receptions over the last two seasons, has three more years on his current contract. Tate ranked second behind Johnson in receiving yards (2,144) and receiving touchdowns (10) from 2014-15.
Players retiring at 30 or younger
In 2011, five players age 30 or younger retired. That accounted for 24 percent of the players who retired.
Those numbers have steadily increased each season since 2011, with a five-year high of 19 players age 30 or younger having retired already this offseason (49 percent). That number does not include Marshawn Lynch, who is also expected to retire at 29.