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Megatron collects, Hillis heads to Chiefs
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - 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.
Former 1,000-yard rusher Peyton Hillis is getting a fresh start in Kansas City after a drama- and injury-filled second season in Cleveland after rushing for 1,177 yards in 2010. Terms of the deal weren’t immediately disclosed.
Hillis won a nationwide fan vote to be the cover figure for “Madden NFL 12” last offseason, but then rushed for just 587 yards.
Meanwhile, the wait for prized free agent defensive end Mario Williams to decide whether to sign with the Buffalo Bills will last yet another day.
The Bills announced Wednesday night that Williams had left their facility and would return Thursday morning. That means the former Houston Texans star pass-rusher will sleep on making up his mind by spending a second night in Buffalo.
In Detroit, 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.
“We’ve made our mark for what we wanted to accomplish,” Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said.
Jacksonville finally got going in free agency, agreeing to terms with receiver Laurent Robinson, defensive tackle C.J. Mosley and backup quarterback Chad Henne. The Jaguars also re-signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey, filling the team’s most pressing needs on the second day of free agency.
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