The Buccaneers announced that defensive end George Johnson is done for the season and going on injured reserve, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Johnson went down during Thursday’s practice with an injury that has yet to be disclosed, though Jenna Laine of ESPN.com hears that it’s a hip fracture.
The Bucs acquired Johnson and a seventh-round pick from the Lions last offseason in exchange for a fifth-round choice. Initially, the Buccaneers signed the defensive end to a three-year, $9MM offer sheet as a restricted free agent, but the Lions contested the proposal, arguing that they did not have to match de-escalators in the latter years of the deal since the RFA rules were ambiguous in that area. Without those de-escalators, the Lions only would have had to give Johnson a $7MM deal to retain him. Ultimately, however, the two teams were able to work something out.
An undrafted free agent in 2011, Johnson originally signed multiple contracts early in his career with the Buccaneers, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the club. He was quietly effective in 2014, appearing in all 16 games for the Lions and earning a positive grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), largely thanks to his excellent pass-rushing acumen. Last year, Johnson appeared in 11 games for the Bucs, tallying 23 tackles and two forced fumbles.
To fill Johnson’s spot, the Bucs have signed defensive end Martin Ifedi. The 6’3′, 275-pound athlete spent part of last season on Tampa Bay’s taxi squad and was with the team this offseason until being waived in May.
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