The Buffalo Bills avoided having to pay Stevie Johnson nearly $10 million guaranteed in 2012 by paying him a lot more money over a significantly longer period of time.
The team announced this morning that it had signed the 25-year-old No. 1 receiver to a long-term contract extension. Financial terms weren’t released, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports it’s a five-year deal worth $35.25 million with $19.5 million guaranteed.
It is a bit odd that the team would fork over a reported $24 million over the first three years of the deal. Assuming Johnson makes around $8 million this season, Buffalo would only be saving about $1.5 million in 2012 while being committed to a good but not spectacular and sometimes inconsistent wideout for at least the next three years.
On the bright side, the Bills do save some cash up front while making their top receiver a happy man. That’s good for business in many ways. Besides, if Johnson’s play drifts in the next few years, they’ll likely be able to sever ties with Johnson for a fairly low price.
A seventh-round pick in 2008, Johnson barely contributed in his first two seasons before emerging as a quality offensive weapon on a team with very few to choose from. He’s eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark while catching at least 75 passes in back-to-back seasons, and has 17 touchdown grabs in that same time frame.
He doesn’t do anything particularly great, but he’s quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target, and despite his penchant for creating controversy with bone-headed antics, he’s breathed new life into the Buffalo offense. For that, Johnson’s been rewarded. And while he probably can’t single-handedly return the favor by ending the team’s embarrassing playoff drought, he’ll increase their chances.
Considering how much money the Bills have to spend, this was the way to go.