The Lions are still hoping that Johnson will change his mind, but it seems as if the decision has been made all season long.
The five-time Pro Bowler has dealt with ankle injuries the past few seasons, which has limited his playing time and production in Detroit. He has spent all nine seasons of his NFL career wearing the Honolulu blue and is turning 31 years old.
He reportedly shared this decision with quarterback Matthew Stafford and linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and the three kept it from the rest of the organization for the time being. The entire organization knew when they released the statement on behalf of Johnson "like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future. I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future."
The team has stated that they will respect whatever the final decision is from their star receiver, but still stood by their previous statement.
Johnson was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft and went on to make two playoff appearance with the Lions, and record a historic season in 2012. That year he set an NFL single-season record 1,964 receiving yards, and if he does retire, he will go out as the franchise's leader in that category and receptions.
This walk away from the game reminds many Lions' fans of Barry Sanders, who shockingly called it quits right before the 1999 season. The timing may be a little off, but the long-lasting effect will feel disappointingly similar.