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Lions disputing terms of George Johnson's offer sheet with Bucs

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Detroit Lions are disputing the terms of an offer sheet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave to restricted free agent George Johnson.

The Bucs signed Johnson to the offer sheet last week, and the deadline for the Lions to match was supposed to be Monday afternoon. But Detroit has taken action that will delay that.

An independent arbitrator will identify all the terms that would have to be matched and rule within 10 days. The Lions then would have two days to match the offer, which reportedly was for a three-year deal worth $9 million.

Johnson tweeted Monday about being stuck in limbo.

A league source told ESPN's Adam Caplan that Detroit believes the de-escalators in the three-year restricted offer sheet are not part of the "Principal Terms" from Article 9, Section 3, Letter (i) of the NFL collective bargaining agreement, which states: "The Principal Terms of an Offer Sheet shall include only signing bonus, Paragraph 5 Salary, and reporting and roster bonuses."

Johnson began his career with Tampa Bay in 2010 and spent parts of three seasons with the Bucs. He also played for Minnesota before joining Detroit last year, when he recorded a career-high six sacks.