Bills lock up WR Johnson with five-year deal

Posted March 05, 2012 @ 9:35 a.m.
Posted By PFW staff

Months after locking up QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to a long-term contract, the Bills were able to sign the team's top receiving target to an extension as well.

The team announced that it had signed WR Stevie Johnson to a contract extension on Monday. Reports indicate that it is a five-year deal, which will keep the explosive playmaker in Buffalo for the foreseeable future to team with Fitzpatrick. Johnson was set to be an unrestricted free agent.

A former seventh-round pick, the 6-2, 207-pound Johnson emerged as a go-to target in 2010, hauling in 82 receptions for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. He followed that up with another big year in 2011, posting 76-1,004-7 despite increased attention from defenses. That made him the first player in franchise history to record consecutive campaigns with 1,000 receiving yards.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the five-year deal is worth $36.25 million with $19.5 million guaranteed and over $24 million in the deal's first three years.

The way we see it

This was a crucial move by the Bills to lock up their top playmaker for the long-term. Johnson has expressed his loyalty to Buffalo since the Bills gave the seventh-rounder a chance and he maintained that in his press conference Monday. It's hard enough to find stars on the open market to play in Buffalo, so it was important for GM Buddy Nix to lock up Johnson, who is far and away the team's top receiver.

The numbers in the deal work well for both sides.

Johnson has a good rapport with Fitzpatrick and had worked well in Chan Gailey's offense. The team is thin at wide receiver and still might draft one, but it really would have hurt the Bills if Johnson had walked via free agency, as they would be void of playmakers.

Fantasy spin

Johnson disappointed as a No. 1 fantasy receiver because of his inconsistency. He did average 4.75 catches for 62.75 yards and 0.4 TDs on 8.3 targets per game. He is the team's best receiver and the focal point of the passing game.

Johnson does live and die by the inconsistent arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they have a good rapport, making him a No. 1 fantasy receiver. Johnson is also entering his prime at the age of 25. With added maturity and by continuing to play in the same offense with the same QB, there are reasons for optimism about him having a breakout season.