The Lions have agreed to trade defensive end George Johnson to the Tampa Bay Bucs for a late-round pick, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Bucs had offered a deal to Johnson for $9 million for three years. The Lions had a right to match the offer but instead were contesting it according to the NFL. An impartial arbitrator was expected to make a decision. The trade nullifies that.
Johnson, who is 27, came to Detroit last season to add depth but was a good surprise from the get-go. He had six sacks in 16 games. He got many of the snaps that were expected to go to Devin Taylor.
Here’s where the Lions stand at defensive end without Johnson:
— Ziggy Ansah will start at one end. Ansah just keeps improving. Look for more of a leap this season because he’ll have his first full offseason of workouts with the team. Last year he was coming off surgery. He had 7.5 sacks in 2014 with three forced fumbles and 49 tackles.
— Jason Jones is expected to start at the other side after playing his first full season with the Lions in which he had five sacks, two forced fumbles, five pass defenses and 22 tackles.
— Darryl Tapp who played in all 16 games last season finishing with a half-sack, two pass defenses and 17 tackles.
— Devin Taylor should be ready to get more involved in the defense. He had one sack with limited time on defense last season and 2.5 sacks in his rookie year in 2013.
— Larry Webster could be the X-factor here. Webster, a fourth-round pick last year, made tremendous strides last season even though he didn’t play. Jim Caldwell practically raved about his improvement (very un-Caldwell like) when asked about Webster in December.
— Phillip Hunt, who played in 22 games for the Eagles in 2011 and 2012, was signed as a free agent.