All-Pro Nicks joins Bucs; Megatron collects

By Barry Wilner

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, March 14 2012 2:46 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2011 file photo, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) celebrates with running back Kevin Smith (30) after the Lions beat the Oakland Raiders 28-27 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif. The Lions have signed Johnson to a new eight-year contract worth up to $132 million, making him the highest paid receiver in the NFL. The team announced the signing Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, File, Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. — 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.

Indianapolis made receiver Reggie Wayne's return official Wednesday and also signed defense end Cory Redding to a contract.

Wayne will get three years and $17.5 million in what likely is the last deal of his career. He's likely to be the No. 1 target for Andrew Luck, who the Colts are expected to take with the top pick in the draft.

Redding enters his 10th NFL season with a fourth team. He's also played for Detroit, Seattle and Baltimore.

"Cory is a big and aggressive interior ... player who is an ideal fit in this defense," coach Chuck Pagano said. "This type of player is hard to come by because of the traits required to play over large offensive linemen while still being a force to stop the run."

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 five-year 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."

Finnegan will get $50 million, $27 million guaranteed and $33 million in the first three years. He also can earn and additional $1 million with incentives.

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