It seemed inevitable that the Detroit Lions were going to lose defensive end George Johnson to his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Initially given an original-round, $1.542 million RFA tender by the Lions, the Buccaneers stepped in and gave Johnson an offer sheet worth $9 million over three years. Johnson signed it, and it appeared the deal was done.
Not so fast, apparently.
Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com reported on Monday that the Lions are officially disputing the terms of the Buccaneers’ offer. The NFL agreed that the contract needs to be investigated and now has appointed an arbitrator to make a ruling about the contract within 10 days. The Lions will then have two days to match the principal terms of the offer hammered out by the arbitrator.
Those “principal terms” appear to be what the Lions are taking issue with. Here is the relevant language from the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (via Twentyman) regarding offer sheet disputes:
In the event of any dispute regarding whether a term in an Offer Sheet is or is not a Principal Term that must be matched, including any dispute regarding whether a term is an impermissible poison pill designed to discourage or prohibit the Prior Club from exercising a Right of First Refusal, the dispute shall be presented to the Impartial Arbitrator for expedited resolution under Section 4 below. The Impartial Arbitrator shall identify all of the terms that would have to be matched by the Prior Club, and the Prior Club shall have two days after such decision in which to exercise its Right of First Refusal.
Johnson converted to a situational edge-rusher for the Lions in 2014, and had the team’s third-highest sack total, with six. He also had 29 combined tackles. In his previous two years in the league, spent with the Buccaneers and, briefly, with the Minnesota Vikings, he recorded no sacks and just seven combined tackles.
Photo: USA Today Images