With restricted free agent George Johnson signing an offer sheet with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, the Detroit Lions had until Monday to make a decision about matching it or letting him walk. Well, that's what was supposed to happen, anyway.
As it turns out, the Lions have made a decision of a different sort: They are contesting Johnson's offer sheet. It's unclear what exactly has led them to dispute Johnson's deal with the Buccaneers, but this situation isn't going to be resolved on Monday:
An impartial arbitrator will identify all the terms that would have to be matched and rule within 10 days. Lions then have 2 days to match.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) April 13, 2015
I've never heard of something like this happening before, so it's unclear what this process entails once you get beyond the arbitrator stage. Could the offer sheet simply be deemed invalid? If so, would Johnson then be able to sign a new deal with the Bucs before the April 24 deadline for restricted free agents, or would he then revert back to the Lions? It's unclear, and it's unclear why this offer sheet is being contested in the first place, but this is interesting:
Sounds like the Lions and the league are on the same page when it comes to the George Johnson offer sheet. Headed for independent arbiter— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) April 13, 2015
Johnson's offer sheet is for three years and $9 million, and Dave Birkett reports that it has a 2015 cap hit of $2.75 million. Well, that's what Johnson is supposed to make, but with the Lions disputing the offer sheet, he is in limbo for the time being.
UPDATE: Here are more details:
Couple clarifications: It's the Lions contesting the offer sheet. Also, this is the final offer sheet. Tampa can't rescind it.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) April 13, 2015
The Lions will have two days to decide whether to match the offer once the arbitrator rules on what part of the offer must be matched— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) April 13, 2015