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Stafford knew NFL was 'wearing on' Calvin Johnson

When news dropped in January that Calvin Johnson was considering retirement, it hit many like a bombshell. Not Matthew Stafford though.

The Detroit Lions quarterback, speaking at a coaching clinic for his alma mater Georgia on Friday, said he could tell Megatron's football days were numbered.

"Not to say that I expected it, but I wasn't shocked," Stafford said, via the Detroit Free Press. "I've known Calvin for seven years and know the effort and the attitude that he plays with, and it takes a toll on people. And he was catching quite a few passes and getting hit quite a bunch, and so it takes a toll. And he's a guy that from an offensive standpoint was touching the ball or carrying the ball just as much as anybody. So I knew the NFL was kind of wearing on him and I just told him, when he told me he was done, I just told him, 'I'm happy for you if you're happy.' And that's what you want. He's a guy that gave everything to the game and you want him to be able to walk out on his own terms and feel like he did the right thing."

Stafford's lack of surprise at watching his best receiver walk away meshes with his response back in January, when the quarterback didn't try to lobby for Johnson's return. Stafford knew Megatron was out the door then and he wasn't going to make it harder on his teammate.

The lingering issue now is what the Lions will do to replace the future Hall of Fame receiver. Stafford admitted duplicating Johnson's explosiveness and production would be difficult.

"It'll look different, obviously," Stafford said. "He was a player that drew a bunch of attention, not only in the red zone but all over the field. He was a guy that led that receiver group, showed those guys what it was like to work and what it was like to try and dominate a game, take over a game. We have obviously replaced with some pieces. No one player is going to replace a guy like that, but I'm confident in our coaches and our players that we have on our team, we're going to be fine."

The Lions added Marvin Jones and Jeremy Kerley this offseason to go with Golden Tate. The trio provide a ton of run-after-the-catch ability.

The biggest question for the Lions' offense is where Stafford will turn to pick up big chunks in key spots now that his security blanket is in retirement.

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