With the trade deadline looming next Tuesday, it's open season on trade rumors. With the Detroit Lions' season essentially over, many see this as an opportunity for the Lions to empty their cabinet and build for the future. Former NFL player and current CBS analyst Bart Scott has a radical idea: Trade Calvin Johnson.
The visceral reaction to a drastic move like this is inherently negative. Johnson is not only a once-in-a-lifetime talent, but he also bring the right attitude to the job; an increasingly rare combination. Trading away someone like that not only seems wrong, but borderline insane.
But once you get beyond the emotional attachment, there's some validity to the move here. Johnson, while Detroit's biggest offensive weapon, has not brought this team general success offensively. Obviously, that's not solely his job, but with the paycheck he's receiving, the offensive production the Lions are getting may not warrant giving Johnson that big of a piece of the pie. Nothing against Johnson and his talent, it's just dishing out 14.4 percent of the salary cap to a wide receiver doesn't seem to be panning out positively right now.
But the problem here is that the Lions probably could not find a trading partner to make it worth it. As a franchise, you can't accept anything less than a first round pick for Johnson. Meaning, you'll have to not only find a contender willing to give up at least that much, but this trading partner will also have to be willing to take on the rest of Johnson's "mega"- contract. According to Jason Fitzgerald of Sporting News, Johnson would cost his new team "between $7.5 and $8 million for the season and then decide if they want to keep him in 2016 at a $16.5 million salary."
Not only that, but the Lions' savings for trading Johnson are a bit overstated. If they decide to ship Johnson, they would still owe Johnson a lot of "dead" money: (via OverTheCap.com,)
Editor's note: Make sure to change the drop-down menu to "trade" to see the correct values.
That's $12.9 million next season, and nearly $5 million in 2017. The move would obviously clear up some space, but it would take a lot of time to truly be cleared of Calvin's contract. Essentially, trading Calvin Johnson isn't a move for next year or even the year after, but more of a rebuild for the Lions in 2018 and on.
And while it's that sort of foresight that has been lacking in the Lions organization for a while, I don't see this as a move that is plausible nor right for the team at the moment. This is a team that is drastically underperforming right now, and a move like this screams "over-reaction." I'm a firm believer that any player should be tradeable given the right price, and Martin Mayhew would be smart to at least listen to offers if they come by. But I don't think there is a team out there that would be willing to give the Lions what they needed in return to make this trade worthwhile.