Calvin Johnson got the biggest contract in NFL history Wednesday, and he wasn’t even a free agent.
The All-Pro wide receiver’s eight-year deal through the 2019 season is worth $132 million, with $60 million guaranteed, surpassing the $120 million with $50 million guaranteed being paid to Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald.
“They were happy to get this thing done with, and I was happy as well,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t a lot of confrontation. We weren’t butting heads or anything. It was just something that we knew needed to get done.”
Another All-Pro, guard Carl Nicks, left New Orleans for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a five-year contract. Considered one of the NFL’s best pass blockers, Nicks is a two-time Pro Bowl player and was a key on the Saints’ record-setting offense.
Johnson lived up to his “Megatron” nickname with his spectacular receptions in 2011, catching 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns in leading the Lions back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Johnson are the only players in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season.
“Calvin’s one of those guys — we’ve said this about a few guys that we have in our building — whatever they pay him is not enough,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s truly a special player.”
Tampa has been among the busiest teams in free agency, hardly surprising after the Bucs slumped from 10-6 to 4-12 last year. Nicks joined cornerback Eric Wright, who also signed Wednesday. Wright got a five-year deal, too.
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers added star receiver Vincent Jackson for five years and $55.55 million.
Chicago agreed to a three-year deal with wide receiver Eric Weems, also a standout on special teams who could ease the kick returns burden on Devin Hester. The previous day, the Bears traded with Miami for wideout Brandon Marshall and signed quarterback Jason Campbell.
Yet the Bears also brought back Josh McCown on a one-year deal. McCown joined Chicago late last season and appeared in three games, making two starts after Caleb Hanie struggled filling in for Jay Cutler.
New St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher brought in one of his regulars when he was with the Titans, agreeing with cornerback Cortland Finnegan on a contract. Finnegan was an All-Pro in 2008 and is known for his physical style. He got into a punching match with Texans star receiver Andre Johnson during a game in 2010 and both were fined $25,000.
“Obviously, I’ve had a relationship with him, know him very well and I know he’s going to fit in and be a very fine player for us. We’re very, very excited about that,” Fisher said. “He’s a complete corner in that he’s got great cover skills, he’s a run support corner. He’s got flexibility to move inside. There’s always potential to match him up with a top receiver on a game-to-game basis.”
Another Tennessee player, defensive end Jason Jones, was visiting Rams Park on Wednesday.
Eagles defensive end Trent Cole, who had 11 sacks last season, agreed to a four-year extension with Philadelphia.
The Peyton Manning courtship continued, with the Titans taking their turn at wooing the four-time MVP quarterback who was released earlier this month by Indianapolis. Coach Mike Munchak, general manager Ruston Webster and owner Bud Adams’ top executive in Tennessee took off in the team’s private plane to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., picked up Manning and then headed back to Nashville.
The quarterback’s suitors already include Denver, Arizona and Miami.
Two other quarterbacks on the market, Green Bay’s Matt Flynn — considered the top available QB behind Manning — and Chad Henne, have scheduled visits to Seattle.
AP Sports Writers Teresa M. Walker in Nashville and Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this story.