The Detroit Lions have already started the process of getting star wide receiver Calvin Johnson locked up for the future.
Lions president Tom Lewand told WBBL-FM last week the team has already started contract discussions with the representatives of Johnson, who is under contract through the 2012 season.
"Calvin's under contract for this year," Lewand said. "He's obviously somebody that we want to keep around for a long, long time. We've been in discussions with him, we'll continue those, but as I said, he's under contract for 2012, so he's not going anywhere. We'll continue to work with him. The good news there is that he's really expressed an interest in staying."
NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Lions are interested in restructuring Johnson's contract due to salary cap pressure.
Lewand added that the strong chemistry between Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford is a factor.
"As I mentioned earlier, he's got a great relationship with Matthew," Lewand said. "I think we've got the makings of what could be one of the great batteries in the league in Calvin and Matthew. So there's a desire among all parties to keep that together, and it's been my experience that when that desire exists, that you usually can get deals done."
Johnson benefited from a huge season from Stafford, finishing with 96 receptions for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. The second overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft is entering the final season of his six-year rookie contract.
Earlier this month, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgeraldsang Johnson's praises, telling the Lions' official website that Johnson is "an extremely, extremely impressive talent" who should be the NFL's highest-paid receiver.
Lions running back Kevin Smith, who returned to step in after injuries to Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure, is scheduled to be a free agent but hopes to be back next season.
"In every interview that I've done, even though I'm a free agent, I've referred to the team and me as us," Smith said last week, according to MLive.com. "I'm on the Lions roster in my opinion until I'm not on the Lions roster. That says it all."
In other news, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday that the Lions are likely to bring back Shaun Hill as their backup quarterback. According to the newspaper, the team has informed Hill, 32, and his representatives of its wishes to re-sign him. The report said Hill also wants to stay in Detroit and might be willing to do so at a discount.