The turnover on Kansas City’s defense is beginning, and starting with a big name.
The Chiefs announced that veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson would become a free agent on March 14.
There was another year left on the 35-year-old linebacker’s contract, but it will void, setting him free.
“Few players in recent history have meant more to the Chiefs franchise and the Kansas City community than Derrick Johnson,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said in a statement. “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.”
He just won’t be on the field with them after 13 seasons.
The 2005 first-round pick is the team’s all-time leading tackler.
“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.”
That “when my career is over” indicates that he wants to keep playing, and it will be interesting to see how quickly he’ll find work.