According to Birkett, the Buccaneers offer sheet contains de-escalators that are not considered part of the principle terms of Johnson’s contract.
The CBA states that teams must match the “principle terms” of an offer sheet, which includes base salary, roster and signing bonuses.
However, it appears as though the Lions have enough of a case for this to go before an independent arbitrator, who will rule on the validity of the offer within the next 10 days.
Monday was the deadline for the Lions to match the Buccaneers’ offer sheet, but it looks like this play out over the next week or so.
Mike Garafolo previously reported that the Buccaneers signed Johnson to a three-year deal worth $9 million.
The Lions elected to use a low-round on Johnson back in early March, which would pay him a salary of around $1.54 million for the 2015 season. However, the Lions would receive no draft pick compensation if they were to pass on matching the Buccaneers’ offer sheet.
Johnson, 28, is originally signed on with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers back in 2010.
Last year, Johnson appeared in all 16 games for the Lions and recorded 29 tackles, six sacks, a fumble recovery, and a pass defense. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 24 defensive end in a 4-3 system out of 59 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding this situation as the news is available.