Former UK Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson’s rookie contract ended on Sunday. He and the Buffalo Bills have not been able to agree on a new contract up until this point, and after a first half benching on Sunday it seems as if Johnson and Bills will go their separate ways in 2012. As far as production is concerned Johnson has definitely out performed his first contract and will be a highly-touted free agent if allowed to walk. Simply, if Buffalo does not want to pay Johnson there are many teams that will be after the California native’s services.
Yesterday, Johnson caught an 18-yard touchdown against the New England Patriots which pushed him over 1,000 receiving yards on the season. After the score, he lifted up his jersey to show a t-shirt which had “Happy New Year” written on it and was given a 15 yard penalty. Johnson, who had been warned by head coach Chan Gailey after numerous celebration penalties earlier in the year, was benched for the rest of the game. The Bills ended up losing a 21-point lead and fell to the Patriots 49-21.
Johnson becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off season is said to be looking for a new contract in the $7.5 million a year range. It has been reported that Johnson and the Bills are more than $2 million apart in their contract talks, and with Johnson’s actions this season it could ultimately push him to the free agent market.
in his first two seasons, he combined to catch 12 passes for 112 yards, but he’s turned himself into one of the Bills most important players the past two years. He needs 36 yards in the season finale against the Patriots to go over 1,000 yards receiving for the second-straight year, and though his catches and touchdowns are down from a season ago, Johnson has put together the best two receiving seasons in Buffalo since Eric Moulds in 2004-05.
That’s why it’s not surprising that WGR 550 in Buffalo (H/T to PFT) is reporting that Johnson asked for an annual salary of $7.5 million for between 4-5 years during his contract negotiations with the Bills. Which could be one reason why, according to the radio station, that Buffalo hasn’t made him an offer for the past month. When the two sides met in September, they were apparently about $2 million apart in annual compensation.
Johnson finished the season with 1,004 receiving yards and 7 TDs on the season. In the past two seasons Johnson has a total of 17 touchdowns which is more than fellow free agent wide receivers Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and DeSean Jackson. Johnson may not be the most humbled guy in the NFL, but he is a proven playmaker and will be an asset to the next team he suits up for.