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NFLPA confirms George Johnson is restricted free agent

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It turns out that Detroit Lions defensive end George Johnson will indeed be a restricted free agent next month.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of the offseason, when I was compiling a list of the Detroit Lions' 2015 free agents, I quickly noticed that there was some confusion over the status of defensive end George Johnson. Based on my research, there was no way that Johnson had accrued more than three seasons, so I listed him as a restricted free agent. Other outlets reported him as an unrestricted free agent (four or more accrued seasons), however, and it was unclear why that was happening.

As we recently learned, the source of this confusion was the timing of when the Minnesota Vikings released Johnson during the 2013 season. Johnson didn't have enough games that year to accrue a season, but the timing of his release led some to believe that he may have had enough paychecks to make up the difference.

As it turns out, this confusion has now been cleared up, because the Free Press is reporting that Johnson is indeed a restricted free agent. His status has been confirmed by the NFL Players Association, meaning that the Lions will be able to tender him and match any offers that come his way. It's unlikely that Johnson will receive any offers if the Lions put a first- or second-round tender on him, but it's unclear which level tender they plan to use at this point.

What we do know is that the Lions are in fact planning to tender Johnson at some level. Quarterback Kellen Moore and linebacker Josh Bynes, their other two restricted free agents, will not be tendered, but the team is hoping to re-sign them anyway.