The 30-year-old, who was nicknamed 'Megatron', established himself as one of the most dominant receivers in the league and is considered by many to be among the best to have ever played in the position.
Johnson retires with more than 11,000 receiving yards and seven 1,000-yard seasons, including the 2012 campaign that saw him set a new NFL record for 1,964 receiving yards in a single season.
He is also a six-time Pro Bowler and finishes his career with 15 NFL records to his name overall.
"After much prayer, thought and discussion with loved ones, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the Lions and pro football. I have played my last game of football. Let me assure you that this was not an easy or hasty decision. As I stated, I, along with those closest to me, have put a lot of time, deliberation and prayer into this decision and I truly am at peace with it," he said in a statement.
"I also want you to know that I have the utmost respect and admiration for the game of football. It has provided so much for me and my family and I will be forever grateful to the game. To the fans of Detroit and Michigan. I so appreciated your passionate support over the years and truly enjoyed playing for you. I loved playing in Detroit and will forever be a Lion.
"My biggest regret is that I wasn't able to help give our fans a championship. But I do believe the future of the Lions is bright and with the leadership from people like Rod Wood and Bob Quinn, who I have gotten to know over the past few months, I am confident that our fans will soon be rewarded with the championship you deserve. From the bottom of my heart I thank you all for everything."