The Buccaneers announced that they have signed Detroit defensive end George Johnson, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet. The deal is for three years, but terms were not disclosed.
The Lions have five days to match the offer, but will receive no draft pick compensation from the Bucs if they don’t. Detroit signed Johnson to the lowest restricted offer tender of one-year for $1.54 million.
Johnson, who signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Rutgers, and remained with the Bucs through the 2012 preseason before he was released. Johnson notched a team-high three sacks in the 2011 preseason, but was placed on injured reserve later that year with a knee injury.
After an uneventful two-year stint in Minnesota, Johnson signed with Detroit last year and notched 29 tackles and the first six sacks of his career. The Lions might not match Johnson’s offer because they are bringing back five defensive ends from last year’s team – Ezekiel Ansah, Jason Jones, Devin Taylor, Darryl Tapp and Larry Webster, last year’s draft pick. Detroit also signed former CFL standout Phillip Hunt.
With defensive end being one of the weaker positions in terms of talent and production, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Johnson would be a welcome addition, especially with the recent departure of Michael Johnson, a free agent bust from a year ago. The 27-year old Johnson still has plenty of upside that defensive line coach Joe Cullen and new assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer can develop.
Signing Johnson would also take some of the pressure off Tampa Bay in terms of having to select a defensive end early in the draft.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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