Even before I saw this story on ESPN, it was obvious that this off-season the Lions should focus on working out a new deal with Calvin instead of even letting him come close to free agency. However, after reading that story I'm convinced it needs to be the first thing they work on.
According to that article, his cap hit is going to be $22M (my math says $23: 14+4.5+4.5=23) which is significant, and it only gets worse if they don't work out a deal and have to put the franchise tag on him. the number goes up to the $25-26Million range. that right there is the difference between signing a pretty good player, and a no name off the street. Not to mention it gives the team no long term security of knowing they'll have him in the fold which can also impact their ability to sign other players among the obvious loss on the field.
Coming up with a number is tough, but there is no doubt he is going to be the highest paid receiver in the league - by far. He is likely to be among the top paid players in the league - period. The Lions best hope is that he is willing to take a lower average salary over a longer term and come up with a way to give him a large enough signing bonus to compensate. Realistically, even taking that into account I can't see his cap hit coming in at less than $18 - 20 Million. it would be a Mayhew miracle to do less.
I say this is priority #1 because knowing how much they will owe Calvin will impact how much they can offer to the existing free agents (tulloch, wright, and avril) that they need to sign.