Chiefs To Let 13 Year LB Johnson Become Free Agent

The Chiefs announced the end of an era in Kansas City on Tuesday as the team revealed its plans to let veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson become a free agent when his contract expires at the start of the new league year on March 14.

The intended decision brings an end to the 35-year-old's 13-year run with the organization.

"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 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."

For his part, Johnson said he intends to find a new home to continue his career, which he intends to end as a member of the Chiefs.

"I've been blessed to be a part of the Kansas City Chiefs organization my entire career," Johnson stated. "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."

Johnson was the Chiefs' first-round pick (No. 15 overall) in the 2005 draft. He's been a Pro Bowler four times and was a first-team All-Pro in 2011. His 182 games played with Kansas City are tied for eighth-most in franchise history.

Johnson is the franchise's all-time leading tackler with 1,262 in his career.

Johnson missed nearly all of the 2014 season with a torn Achilles and suffered a similar injury late in the 2016 campaign. He saw his playing time last season decrease as younger linebackers Reggie Ragland and Kevin Pierre-Louis received more snaps.

"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," general manager Brett Veach said in the statement. "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," coach Andy Reid added. "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."

--Field Level Media

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