ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 24: Steve Johnson #13 of the Buffalo Bills makes a catch in the first half against the Denver Broncos at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 40-14. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The impending unrestricted free agent status of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson remains the hot topic in Western New York this morning, aided by a WGR 550 report that Johnson has sought a $7.5 million annual salary from the Bills in twice-defunct negotiations.
The report also states that Johnson and the Bills discussed contract proposals four or five years in length, that the Bills tried to re-open negotiations with Johnson after signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a long-term deal in October, and that Johnson himself twice put an end to negotiations when it became clear that a reported $2 million price tag gap couldn't be crossed. Johnson purportedly did not want the situation to become a distraction during the season.
Johnson told reporters on Wednesday that he's optimistic a deal will be reached in the off-season, and the two sides still have more than 10 weeks to go before Johnson officially reaches unrestricted free agency. If the report on the asking price is accurate, the Bills may want to wrap up a deal quickly in that range, lest they lose him altogether or be forced to pay him approximately $9.7 million (per WGR figures) with the franchise tag.
Johnson needs just 36 receiving yards on Sunday in New England to become the first receiver in Bills history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons.