As Calvin Johnson's future remains up in the air, his quarterback is taking the retirement talks sincerely.
"I think, anytime Calvin says something, it's not for show, it's something serious," Matthew Stafford said on The Mitch Albom Show on WJR-AM this week, via the Detroit Free Press. "I think you guys have covered him long enough to know that he's a pretty measured person, and everything that he says to the public is a thought-out thing. So in that regard, I'm sure it's thought-out."
"Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future," Johnson said in a statement earlier this month. "I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future."
Per the Free Press, Stafford and Johnson shared a private moment before they left the field after the Lions' season-ending win over the Chicago Bears. The quarterback said he'll keep what they talked about private
"I think, really, everything he wanted to say -- and I don't want to elaborate on anything -- was what he put out in that statement, that he's considering all his options at this point, honestly," Stafford said. "I'm not in the business of speaking for anything."
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With the hiring of new general manager Bob Quinn, Johnson's future has been a focal point of discussions in Detroit. Megatron is set to make a base salary of $16 million in 2016 and count $24 million against the salary cap, an untenable figure. Quinn said during his introductory news conference he plans to meet with Johnson in the near future.
One notable takeaway from Stafford's interview occurred when he was given the chance to publicly plead for Johnson to return or extol the importance of the receiver to the Lions' game plans. This was the quarterback's response:
"He's a heck of a player," Stafford said. "We'll see where his head is at and what he's thinking."
More than anything, that final comment should scare Lions fans the most. If the quarterback isn't going to stomp for his top receiver to come back, perhaps he knows Megatron is on the road to pasture.
It would be brutal for Detroit to watch another Hall of Fame player walk away with plenty of gas left in the tank, a la Barry Sanders. It's a possibility Lions fans don't want to consciously consider.
But their quarterback is taking it seriously.