Lions searching for GM to make big decisions this offseason
Shoulder pads rested on the top shelf, just above some lotion and hand sanitizer. Workout shirts and a hoodie hung on hangers. Cleats, running shoes and sandals were strewn on the floor by his stool.
Johnson, though, may not be back to put his Honolulu blue and silver gear on for a 10th season with the franchise.
The Lions are looking for a general manager to make some big decisions such as what to do with Johnson and coach Jim Caldwell.
Johnson has declined to say if he will restructure his contract. If Johnson doesn't, his contract calls for him to count $24 million against the salary cap next season when he turns 31.
The Lions may decide they can't afford to keep him. His teammates refuse to envision playing without him next season.
''Hopefully that's not the case,'' safety Glover Quin said.
Caldwell led the Lions to an 18-14 record in two regular seasons and lost a wild-card game last season.
''You don't go 1-7 and come back and go 6-2 if your team doesn't believe in your coach,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ''So, we definitely do.''
Lions president Rod Wood, who replaced Tom Lewand soon after he was fired midway through the season, has said the next GM will decide who coaches the team in 2016.
Wood, the new GM and likely team owner Martha Firestone Ford will weigh in on whether to manage the salary cap with or without Johnson on the roster.
Here are some other things to note after Detroit's 7-9 season:
TRENDING UP? The Lions won six of their last eight games, the franchise's best second-half mark in two decades. A 1-7 start led to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, general manager Martin Mayhew and Lewand getting fired. Detroit became the fourth NFL team to finish 7-9 after beginning a season 1-7. In both halves of the season, the Lions lost a game in heartbreaking fashion. On Oct. 5 at Seattle, the Lions lost 13-10 after Johnson fumbled at the 1 and the football was illegally batted out of the end zone with less than 2 minutes left. On Dec. 3 at home, Detroit blew a 20-point lead midway through the third quarter of a 27-23 loss to Green Bay. The game ended when Aaron Rodgers heaved a 61-yard touchdown on untimed down after a facemask penalty. ''It's one of those tough seasons, but I think with three wins in a row at the tail end of it, it leaves you, certainly with some hope,'' Caldwell said.
STREAKING STAFFORD: The quarterback, in his seventh season, seemed to be at his best during the team's strong finish. He played comfortably and confidently with new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Stafford threw 19 TDs and just two interceptions over the last eight games while completing 70 percent of his attempts and averaging 272 yards passing. ''You don't find many guys playing that consistently and it wasn't just two games,'' Caldwell said. ''So, that does lead you to believe that it was some pretty good synergy going on there.''
TRIO OF TARGETS: Detroit had quite a trio of options in the passing game: Johnson, No. 2 receiver Golden Tate and running back Theo Riddick. They became the first three players to have at least 80 receptions each in a season for the Lions, and the fifth trio to pull off the feat in league history. Tate had 90-plus catches for the second straight season with the Lions. Johnson had 88 receptions for his highest total since catching a career-high 122 three seasons ago. Riddick broke a franchise record, which stood since James Jones set it in 1984, for receptions by a running back with 80.
ANSAH THE ANCHOR: The Lions might lose defensive coordinator Teryl Austin because another team may hire him as a head coach, but they have a defensive lineman to build around. Ezekiel Ansah, whom Detroit drafted No. 5 overall in 2013, ranked third in the league and second in the team's record books with 14 1/2 sacks. Ansah is the first player in franchise history to have 30 sacks in his first three seasons since the statistic became official in 1982.
RETURN OR RETIRE: Rashean Mathis said he will play next season in the second and final year of his contract with the Lions, or he'll retire. The cornerback started in seven games in 2015 before going on injured reserve with a concussion, ending his 13th NFL season.
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