The Kansas City Chiefs announced Tuesday that they will allow veteran LB Derrick Johnson to test free agency in the coming months.
“Few players in recent history have meant more to the Chiefs franchise and the Kansas City community than Derrick Johnson,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “His tireless work ethic and passion for the game made him one of the most productive defensive players to ever wear a Chiefs uniform and one of the most respected players both in our locker room and around the league. Over the last 13 seasons, Derrick represented himself and the Chiefs organization with integrity and class, and he will always be a part of our Chiefs family.”
“I’ve been blessed to be a part of the Kansas City Chiefs organization my entire career,” Johnson said. “I’d like to thank the Hunt family, my coaches, teammates and the staff for the tremendous amount of support I received over the years. I love Kansas City and this fan base, they’ve always had my back. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend 13 years in a place I love. I plan on playing for several more years because I love this game so much, but I look forward to retiring as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs when my career is over. I’ll miss my Chiefs teammates – we made a lot of big plays together over the years – and I wish them the best in bringing a championship home to the best and loudest fans in the NFL.”
“Letting go of a player like Derrick is particularly tough because of how much respect I have for him as a player and as a person,” GM Brett Veach said. “He’s had a tremendous career here in Kansas City, and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to coach a player like Derrick,” HC Andy Reid said. “He’s a passionate football player and a natural leader. I value the amount of quality work he put in every day for us, including teaching our younger players what it means to be a pro. I think he will make an incredible coach when he is done playing the game, if he chooses.”
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Corry mentions that this was part of the restructured contract Johnson agreed to last March.
Kansas City will carry a $2.25 million salary cap charge for the 2018 season once Johnson contract voids, according to Corry. This is due to the signing bonus proration from his 2016 deal and the 2017 renegotiation.
Johnson, 35, is a former first-round pick of the Chiefs back in 2005. He was entering in the second year of his three-year, $21 million contract that includes $9.75 million guaranteed when he agreed to a pay cut last year that reduced his base salary from $4.75 million to $1 million.
Johnson received a $1 million signing bonus as part of the renegotiation.
In 2017, Johnson appeared in 15 games and recorded 71 tackles, a forced fumble, a recovery and seven pass defenses. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 33 linebacker out of 88 qualifying players.