Jim Caldwell on rift: 'Families sometimes have disagreements'

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell is concerned former star receiver Calvin Johnson is not happy with how his time with the franchise concluded in March 2016.

Caldwell said sometimes these things happen within families, but he believes that -- over time -- the franchise and Johnson will be able to work things out.

"Playing in the National Football League for a team, it's like a family. Families sometimes have disagreements," Caldwell said. "They look at things a little differently. I have grown children. Sometimes we look at things a little differently. We hash them out, talk them out. There's dialogue, but it doesn't mean I don't love them. But we get the differences worked out.

"I think the same thing will happen in this situation. Maybe there's a disagreement, a little different viewpoint, but the most important thing, I think, is perhaps this whole thing will bring about a little bit more dialogue."

Caldwell said he's not sure the last time he spoke with Johnson on the phone, but he often will text with the franchise's leader in receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619) and receiving touchdowns (83).

The fourth-year Lions coach, who worked with Johnson in 2014 and 2015, said the entire franchise is "concerned" when they hear one of their former stars is not happy.

"One of the things that I think you've noticed since I've been here, our practices are open to all our alumni," Caldwell said. "They can come any time, any day. There's no restrictions against them in terms of watching our practices and being involved."

Johnson voiced his displeasure over his departure to the Detroit Free Press over the weekend.

"I just didn't feel like I was treated the way I should have been treated on the way out," Johnson said. "That's all. I mean, it's all good. I'm not tripping. I don't feel any kind of way, just hey, that's what they did. Hey, it is what it is."

Johnson did not go into specifics about what bothered him, but the Lions did ask him to repay $320,000 of the $3.2 million proration left on his signing bonus when he retired. In December, he told ESPN he wished his time with the Lions would have "ended a little bit differently," but didn't go into specifics then, either, because "that's going to be too big of a headline."

This isn't the first time the franchise has had issues with how a star felt when he retired from the franchise. Barry Sanders, who retired on the eve of training camp in 1999, ended up going to court with the Lions over repayment of his signing bonus and was not around the organization for years before reconciling.

Caldwell said he didn't want to put any timeline on when things with Johnson would get worked out -- only that he hoped they would be.

The NFL's single-season receiving yards record holder retired mostly due to injuries to his ankle, knee and fingers -- issues that had bothered him throughout the final few years of his career.

Johnson has expressed no interest in returning to the NFL since he retired. Instead he appeared on "Dancing with the Stars," has worked with receivers as a consultant and went back to Georgia Tech to finish his degree.