WR Johnson gets contract extension from Bills
After the Buffalo Bills took a chance on Stevie Johnson, the
flamboyant receiver decided to return the favor.
Johnson signed a five-year, $36.25 million contract extension on
Monday with the Bills, a week before he was set to become an
unrestricted free agent.
”I want to do all I can to make sure and let them know they
didn’t make a mistake,” Johnson said. ”I want to make sure they
look good. This is where I started, and I wanted to remain loyal to
Johnson, 25, was all smiles after he signed the deal that will
keep him reunited with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The two have
developed a strong relationship, and are viewed as a key cog in the
Bills’ youth movement.
”I’m fired up,” Fitzpatrick said in a conference call on
Monday. ”This shows a lot about Stevie, and this shows a lot about
where the Bills are headed. Being our go-to guy in the receiving
corps and being a huge playmaker for us, it was a must in terms of
Bills general manager Buddy Nix was also happy to have signed
his No. 1 receiver on the last day for teams to designate
prospective free agents with the franchise tag. Applying the tag on
Johnson would have cost the Bills about $9.4 million next
”It’s a good day for us,” he said. ”Our football team got
better. One of our philosophies coming in is that we wanted to keep
our good players here. We were able to do that with Steve Johnson.
It goes without saying what he’s done the past two years, and I
think it’s just going to get better.”
After being selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft,
Johnson emerged in 2010 when he led the Bills with a career-high 82
catches for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. He followed that up this
past season with 76 receptions, and became the first player in team
history to record consecutive 1,000-yard receiving campaigns.
He has 170 catches for 2,189 yards and 19 touchdowns in 48 games
during his four-year career.
The Bills would have been dealt a big blow had they not
re-signed Johnson. Perennially one of the worst offensive teams in
the league, they began making strides last year in Fitzpatrick’s
second year as the starting quarterback. Buffalo finished 14th in
the NFL in yards gained, its best ranking since finishing 11th in
2002 under the direction of quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
Johnson has been a big part of that resurgence.
”We’ve developed a great relationship,” said Fitzpatrick, who
signed a six-year, $59 million contract extension in October. ”To
be able to continue that and see that grow for the next few years
is going to be great. Chan (Gailey) and Buddy have a plan in place
and this shows that we’re on the right track. We’re going to keep
the guys that perform, and continue upon what we’ve done.”
Johnson agrees that the Bills are on the right path despite
losing eight of their final nine games to finish 6-10 in 2011,
their 12th straight season without a postseason berth.
”This group is the only group I’ve known, so why leave now when
you got guys turning that corner,” he said. ”There’s a lot of
promise here. We have a talented group, and I think we’ll be a team
that people have to take notice with these coming years.”
This past season was a turbulent one for Johnson. He fought
through injuries to his shoulder, groin, and hand, and also landed
in hot water for his over-the-top celebrations. He was benched for
the final three quarters of the Bills’ finale at New England after
being flagged a second time in six games – and third time in two
years – for an excessive touchdown celebration.
But Fitzpatrick believes Johnson will leave the past behind as
the two focus on taking their team to the next level.
”All the stuff with the celebrations and the penalties that
happened last year – that stuff’s all done with,” Fitzpatrick
said. ”He’s a leader on this team, and he’s a guy that is
concerned with the team and winning, and I think he’ll show