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Bills keep key cog by signing WR Johnson

The Buffalo Bills took a big first step toward having a good offseason today by re-signing receiver Stevie Johnson to a five-year contract extension.

The deal keeps the Bills’ top receiving weapon in the offense and gives the team a chance to improve an attack that ranked 14th in the NFL last season. The deal also allows the team to retain a player who arguably is the most recognizable player on the roster.

Johnson, 25, got a deal that is worth a total of $36.25 million, according to a source close to negotiations. That’s an average of $7.25 million a year. However, more important than the average for Johnson is the fact a big portion of it is guaranteed, and he gets a lot of the money in the first three years. It includes $19.5 million in guaranteed cash, and the average over the first three seasons is $8 million a year.

Johnson, a seventh-round draft choice in 2008, has blossomed into a major threat. He caught 82 passes for 1,073 yards in 2010 and followed it up with 76 catches for 1,004 yards last season. He has 17 touchdown catches the past two years.

“It’s a great feeling,” Johnson said. “It’s like a blessing to be in this organization. This is where I want to be. Everybody knows that.”

"This is where I started, in Buffalo," Johnson said. "They took a chance on me. I'm not doing them any favors. They did me a favor by picking me. I wanted to remain loyal to them, like they did with me, because there could have been times when they let me go. This group is the only group I've known since I've been in the NFL. You know, why leave now, when you've got guys turning that corner? Who knows, we may get things back this next year. If not then the year after. There's a lot of promise here. I love working with these guys."

 --Mark Gaughan

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