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Bill Ford Jr. wants to pay Calvin Johnson, cracks Cris Carter

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Lions receiver Calvin Johnson has one year left on his current contract and has said he wants to get a long-term deal worked out during the offseason. Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr., son of owner William Clay Ford, says the team wants to make that happen just as much as Johnson does.

Asked in a Q&A on the team’s web site how important he thinks it is to get a deal done with Johnson, Ford said he sees keeping Johnson and Matthew Stafford together for years to come as crucial to the franchise.

“Well we really want Calvin here long-term and I think it’s important for us, important for Matthew, it’s important for the fans and he’s a great guy,” Ford said. “He’s a great guy on the field, he’s a great guy in the locker room and he’s a great guy off the field. They don’t make many better people than Calvin Johnson. We really want to get this done with him.”

Ford said he views Johnson as reminiscent of Barry Sanders in terms of giving the Lions an elite offensive weapon. And he took a shot at Cris Carter, who still hasn’t lived down his infamous and since-retracted claim that Johnson is not one of the NFL’s elite receivers.

“I think even Cris Carter would say that now,” Ford said. “I’ve never seen anybody like him and you’ve heard it all before. His nickname alone speaks to it. His ability to run, to jump, to get in and out of cuts at his size, and his hands. That’s the other thing: people keep talking about how fast, big and strong he is, he also has great hands. I couldn’t even begin to find a hole in his game, even a slight one. He’s got it all and then add to that that he’s also a great guy on and off the field. . . . He’s terrific.”

So terrific that the Lions sound ready to give him the biggest contract any NFL receiver has ever signed -- and they’ll still be getting a good deal.