Raiders strike at Chiefs by signing Derrick Johnson

Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs let Derrick Johnson go early in the offseason, but he’s staying in the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders.

Since being drafted 15th-overall way back in 2005 out of the University of Texas, Derrick Johnson was a fixture for the Kansas City Chiefs. But his contract was allowed to void at the start of the new league year, and Johnson became a free agent. After a reported visit on Thursday, his first known trip to see a team, the all-time leading tackler in Chiefs’ franchise history has signed with the Oakland Raiders.

Terms of the deal are not known, but it shouldn’t be more than a one-year deal with any sort of guarantees for the 35-year old who’ll turn 36 in November. Jon Gruden seems intent on adding aging veterans this offseason, with Johnson added to a list including Jordy Nelson, Doug Martin, Tajir Whitehead, Marcus Gilchrist and Rashaan Melvin. But at least Johnson has had a sustained solid level of play in recent years, which the others can’t say.

After tearing an Achilles for the second time in his career late in the 2016 season, Johnson played 15 games last season and had 71 total tackles with seven pass breakups. So he’s still a useful player, and he still played nearly an every down role for a good chunk of last year before being scaled back late. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 33rd-best linebacker in the league last year.

Particularly in pass coverage, Johnson has been outstanding throughout his career.

The Raiders needed a lot of help defensively this offseason, which they didn’t significantly address in free agency and the draft only brought in question marks like Maurice Hurst and Nick Nelson. If healthy Johnson will be a talent upgrade over NaVorro Bowman, while bringing a similar veteran presence to a linebacking corp that can definitely use one.

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