The Buccaneers and Lions could have rolled the dice and allowed an arbitrator to determine defensive end George Johnson’s future, or they could work out an agreement among themselves to resolve the controversy. They’ve chosen the latter.
Via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Lions and Buccaneers have agreed to a swap of late-round picks to allow Johnson to join the Bucs under the three-year, $9 million offer sheet he recently signed.
The Lions had challenged the offer sheet because the package can de-escalate by $2 million. Since de-escalators aren’t listed in the relevant portion of the labor deal as a type of variable payment that constitutes a “principal term” in an offer sheet, a question arose as to whether the Lions had to match the higher amount or the lower amount to keep Johnson.
Because the Lions had tendered Johnson at the lowest level, they would have gotten no compensation if they’d chosen not to match the offer sheet.
The labor deal contains restrictions on the ability to trade a player who has signed an offer sheet, but there’s a procedure that allows to make it happen. Presumably, the Lions and Buccaneers have followed that procedure.